Prototyping and product testing are important throughout the design and development process. While you are developing your new product or service, it's a good idea to keep testing the market to make sure you are still on the right track.
New product prototypes
Developing a prototype of your product allows you to bring it to life and test it in the market with your target customers.
A product prototype can be as simple as a mock-up or an early commissioned sample. A prototype can help you determine:
- how to package, brand and market your product
- how your product's 'look and feel' appeal to your customers
- if the product meets the market expectations
How to test your prototype
You should test your prototype in the type of situations you expect it to be used by your customers. To test it thoroughly, you should:
- show an early version of your product to customers and refine it based on the feedback
- run focus groups - ask your targeted customer segment what they want from your product or service
- conduct questionnaires - try to get as wide a sample as possible
You may need to respond to suggestions from users by modifying the design. Don't be discouraged, as most successful entrepreneurs do not view this as a failure, but as a learning curve.
It's a good idea to send your product to a large or very reputable potential customer or user. A positive testimonial will prove invaluable as you approach other customers.
Before you test your prototype with customers or users, make sure that you you’ve taken steps to protect your intellectual property – find out how to protect new product ideas.
You may want to consider testing even after your product goes on sale. Ongoing contact with customers can uncover both the shortcomings of your product and possible opportunities that you may have missed.
Once you have a final product, you can then set about building a brand. A brand includes everything that is visible to the customer, such as the product name, its packaging and its delivery. Read about designing a successful brand.
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