Building a model of a proposed system is known as prototyping. Prototyping allows developers to test product design, create a product or system to be copied or troubleshoot designs that are in process of production. By using prototyping, developers can use lower quality materials to test products for failure, functionality, look and usage without the expense of producing high end products. It allows for design changes, market research, flaws or last minute changes to be discovered early in the production cycle – giving the manufacturer time to correct the issues. Prototyping can be done in many markets – product production, software development, scale marketing and engineering to name a few.
The benefits of prototyping are many. It can help to reduce time and costs during the development phase. It can require involvement by users, which helps provide feedback and insight into the final product. By using a prototype, it helps developers envision future product changes, and can give them ideas on how to implement the changes.
On the other hand, prototyping has disadvantages which must be considered before embarking on the prototype process. To begin with, developers can sometimes become attached to the prototype, and the system can be left unfinished. In addition, the prototype may be considered “good enough” causing the product to be released before it was finished. It can lead to an insufficient analysis of the product, and the prototype may perform differently than the actual product.
Understanding the pros and cons of the prototype system can help a developer decide if it is a viable option for their use. There can be both positive and negative results which must be carefully balanced with the potential for product improvement and implementation.
Prototyping is most effective when customer feedback is carefully considered and acted on. When prototyping feedback is ignored, the results can lead to products that don’t perform as expected and will often not sell as forecast.