How to think in small experiments when testing big new ideas
What is this for? This is a guide about how to think in small experiments when testing big new ideas. You'll also find a quick activity below that can be done with any team to plan rapid, simple tests to validate if an idea is worth investing more time in. Mindset and core principles A fundamental principle of Design Thinking is to test ideas quickly. Rapid prototyping is a proven way to get early validation and reduce the uncertainty and risk of new initiatives.
Here's a 4-min video that explains what rapid prototyping is, and why it's valuable:
What is rapid prototyping?
"Rapid prototyping" means finding ways to quickly simulate a solution idea (and test it with real customers) before investing time and resources to build the real thing.
Here's an example:
Revolutionary new car design
- Time to build: 3 years
- Cost: $$ Millions
...To rapid prototype
A simple webpage to test reactions and gauge interest
- Time to build: 1 day
- Cost: Next to nothing
Ways to prototype & test an idea
Rapid prototyping can be done in a number of ways. Some of the most common and useful methods are:
- Paper prototypes (sketching the concept on paper)
Clickable digital prototypes (a "fake" website or app that appears real - without coding)
A simple web page or Powerpoint (to showcase the idea)
- Using rapid website builders (and pre-made templates) such as:
- And many others...
- And presentation tools such as:
- Microsoft Powerpoint (best for Windows PC) (for more see )
- Keynote (best for Mac)
- Google Slides (browser based - collaborate with multiple editors)
- Physical prototypes (e.g. using craft materials, pieces from other products, 3D printing, etc.)
For more examples and guidance on exactly how to test a prototype see
Day 5 - Test Activities
When to use rapid prototyping
- If the idea is simple, non-critical and can be tested easily:
- Go ahead and create a prototype on your own
- If the solution is business critical, more complex, or involves multiple stakeholders:
- It's wise to align with the relevant team members and/or stakeholders on how to prototype and test the idea
- Use the activity below with a group to find the most effective way to test the idea with a prototype that will answer key questions with minimal investment.
20-min activity: "Ways to Test"
Use this easy activity in any meeting to get input and alignment from a group on how to test the idea quickly: Ways to test (AKA "3 months, 3 days, 3 hours")
Related workshop activities
- Ways to test (AKA "3 months, 3 days, 3 hours")
- Design Sprint recipe activity: Prototyping