The value in prototyping – A first hand account

On this occasion our experience covers our recent challenge with Australia’s largest investment bank that was focused on creating a new content delivery platform.

 

They were looking to invest serious capital to reimagine their current research consumption offering. They were equipped with a number of new ideas and different product angles. However, the serious challenge was time, it always is. Our Digital stakeholders understood that in order to gain momentum our collective ideas needed to be pitched before senior executives in a matter of days. Getting in front of the right audience at the right time reaps the best benefits. So, no time to code, no time to immerse numerous teams in a design thinking process and most importantly no time to waste.

 

From our experience working with the various c-suite representatives and senior stakeholders we believe that the best way to fast track most digital initiative funding is to provide a compelling visual prototype that is really engaging. Tactile prototypes provide a detailed look at the final end-state without needing to invest in building the entire concept upfront. What the prototype does for us is remove ambiguity, remove the need to imagine the possibilities of what can be for those more interested in the bottom line and most recently expedite the requirements process exponentially by showcasing and listing the features and functions that should find their way into the final deliverable. All of this is done while managing challenging timeframes and limited funding during early stages of innovation and idea generation.

 

This is where prototyping tools come in. The investment bank jumped at the idea of building a prototype that could quickly be tested by potential users as well as those whose buy-in was required to fund the project. As time progressed, what we didn’t expect was that the prototype would continue to be used as a pitching tool to garner further interest from other potential clients and investors. That actually speaks to not only the level of detail that can be produced in a prototype UI but also the ability to showcase a brilliant UX that truly delights end users.

 

Imagine this scenario, the project direction has already been decided, prototyped and tested yet at the eleventh hour we find ourselves still needing to show some consideration to executive’s ideas that have just surfaced. Even more challenging is the need to demonstrate the validity of those ideas with only a few days in hand. Once again, this is where the true value of prototyping comes into its own.

Within a matter of days not only were we able to work with the key project team to visualise all the ideas that senior management were interested in sounding out but we managed to build them into the main prototype so that they could be showcased on their own personal devices to get a sense of how they would work along with the concepts that were already built out and tested. Using the transitions and animations that are built into the main industry tools allowed us to  created a prototype that was so compelling we often heard the comments “yeah, that’s what we mean” or “what, you’ve already built it? That’s quick!”. The power to show the end state without the upfront investment of building out too much of the real platform won out.

 

What are our takeaway lessons?

  1. If you aspire to run LEAN within a major tier 1 environment, leave the code at the door and get prototyping. You will cut costs and save time in areas that matter without off-siding those with financial control.
  2. Get a compelling pitch together. No pitch is as compelling as being able to showcase a prototype to demonstrate what you mean. It helps to get rid of as many unknowns as possible upfront.
  3. Leave the prototype in the hands of those you want to impress the most. It may only be a representation of the end state, but it gets rid of all ambiguity and helps them see your vision.