Don't wait for the prototype to be perfect

Prototyping and Testing phases of design thinking or human centred design

Don't wait for the prototype to be perfect

(I would recommend giving this a quick read first 8 aspects to be aware of whilst doing Design Thinking)

Empathise - Define - Ideate - Prototype - Test

Prototype

Don't wait for the prototype to be perfect. It would never be perfect. Products keep evolving. The best way to ensure that you are not spending too much time on the prototype, is by time boxing  the effort right from the start. e.g. you decide to spend 5 days on this phase: Split it into 1 day of dirty prototyping (20%) and 4 days of actual prototyping(80%), but decide the time limit upfront and stick to it.

Dirty prototype: Dirty prototype is a physical version of your concept. Lets look at a couple of examples:
- If it is a voice operated vending machine, then create a card box, have someone sit inside and ask him/her to dispense the requested products and accept cash.
- If it is a website or an app, then a collection of wireframes could be a dirty prototype.
Spend about 3-4 hours making it and 3-4 hours testing it.

Actual prototype: Once you have tested your dirty prototype:
- decide on how long would you need to create a minimal, but working prototype which users can directly interact with
- have a budget in mind (reserve a certain amount to pay the users, if required)
- if possible, have at least one of your users with you when you start  prototyping

Test

Remember the people and relationships we invested time on earlier, they would come in handy now. Users are busy people, so if they are able to spare only few mins, take their offer and use it wisely.

Prototype and test phases go hand in hand. If you have gotten here with the help of users, then the chances of your product getting accepted increase. Collect user feedback and iterate on your prototype. Acknowledge failures fast. If things don't work out, take the learning and go back to any or all of the previous phases.

USERS > STAKEHOLDERS
If you are going to present your prototype to the stakeholders, invest time on making your presentation look innovative, beautiful and interactive. Remember, the way to beat conviction is through data. Even if your stakeholders don't like your idea, they would always give you a hearing ear if you have the data to prove that the users like it.