You and your development team have a fully vetted product. Your target audience is on board, and you can now move forward with the next steps. It’s time to put your idea to the test and see if you truly have a viable product.
But to move forward, there are some key decisions to make which are often a cause for concern for many businesses — like choosing whether to go with a proof of concept or a prototype for the validation process.
This short guide investigates these two methodologies and provides a closer examination of what they are, their differences, pros and cons, and which one could be best for your project.
In the world of software and application development, a proof of concept is an early version of a product you envision. It’s used to test the functionality and validate the ideas behind the product.
The proof of concept stage of development happens at the beginning of a project and is your first chance to see the product in action in real-world situations. It’s an opportunity to test whether it’s technically possible or feasible to finish the product in full. This means any proof of concept requires the collaborative efforts of both design and tech teams.
The finished POC concept contains lots of documentation and typically a wireframe or framework of what the product will look like and can do. For something like a landing page, this could take around 20 hours, and for an application, anywhere from 100 to 300 hours.
A proof of concept is a way to take a design and give it a little life and provide a general experience to test users so they can understand how it will work and if it’s viable. In many situations, the POC doesn’t require much — or any — coding or development. But the documentation will reflect the technical requirements.
If the POC has a negative test result, the business saves time and money. And if there’s a positive result, it’s an assurance to all teams that they have a feasible product with the technology to build it.
Overall, it’s a stepping stone to creating a minimum viable product (MBP) — a version of the product that contains essential features only.
Businesses should never rush into any project, but here are some pros and cons for developing a proof of concept before moving on to development.
Prototypes are early versions of products used to test both functionality and design. Typically, they demonstrate the physical form of a product and simulate the experience of users through select features.
The user interface (UI) for a prototype rarely has backend work in place, and teams could use a low-code or no-code prototype for user testing. Prototypes create a way to see if users can navigate through the product or feature with no issues.
In some ways, this may read like the definition for a minimum viable product. But it’s actually a step before as MVPs require more work from both engineers and developers.
Typical prototype styles include:
Creating a prototype before a minimum viable product is ideal, and you’d only skip this step of the development process in rare situations. But here are the pros and cons of prototyping.
A validation method depends solely on which stage of the development cycle the product is in. From what we presented in the sections above, you can see how a POC typically comes before a prototype. And the development of a POC also lends to the development of a prototype.
Here are the key points to remember:
It’s difficult to create new programs and applications. The development process can go in several directions and feedback can prompt you to make modifications or even a complete overhaul. Regardless, you’ll save a lot more time and money.
Both methodologies are important to the development process and determining whether your product idea is viable from a marketing and technical standpoint. And if you want your application to be successful, work with a team who implements them both — even for new features.
If you want to develop a program or application for your business, work with a development team that’s experienced in creating high-quality solutions, like us.