Dano Manion

Rapid Prototyping & Experimentation

Rapid Prototyping & Experimentation

What is Rapid Experimentation

  • a method for assessing if your idea meets people’s needs by testing targeted experiemental prototypes.

Examples of Rapid Prototyping & Experimentation

  • The 4 Hour Workweek - Timothy Ferriss
    • Before publishing his book he placed his unpublished book with 1 of 2 designed covers in a book store to see how people reacted to it. The one that people actually interated with ended up being the cover of choice.
  • Demo Stations at COSTCO
    • The people who demo products at COSTCO are actually tracking customer response.
  • Invite people to sign-up for a course that doesn’t exist yet
  • Blog test
    • you have an idea for a product, build a blog to see if there are any legs for those ideas.
  • AirBnB Experiment with Professional Photographers vs Amature photos?
    • Does it increase price, people pick more often?
    • Do people let Photographers into their homes?
    • All done manually to test it out
  • Project: parents, kids & social media
    • idea: send both parents and kids social media montiorting messages to improce communication and create a positive experience.
    • used slack to post updates

Design Thinking Process

Design Thinking Process

Before you move into prototyping, make a plan:

  1. What questions do you have about the effectiveness of the ideas?
  2. What is my working hypothesis about what will happen?
  3. What kinds of experiment would validate my hypothesis?
  4. What prototypes do I need to create to faciliate this experiment?

[Insert Scientific def]


  1. Make a list of all the questions you have about the efficacy of an idea
  2. Select the most critical question to success
  3. Generate a hypothesis
  4. Design an experiment to test your hypothesis
  5. Create the prototype to suppoer the experiment
  6. Run the test

A Cyclical Example

  • Directory Profile Example
  • Overview of Cycles
  • Intial ideas
  • Execute and test
  • repeat()

Survey’s actually suck at providing information. They might provide what people might do. People are not good at determining how and why they’d actually use something. The only way you have have clarity is through prototyping.

It’s okay to say “I don’t know”. We are conditioned to not accept our ignorance. We can’t say “I don’t know”.

Get your Hands Dirty

Grocery Store Business

  • We conducted some need-finding research
    • noticed people shop for fun when they are waiting for the subway in a big cities
    • people complain they don’t have time to shop for groceeries
    • people like going to the store because seeing items on the shelf remind them what they need

3 REasons to Prototype

  • Explore: different versions of an idea
  • Convince: I have an idea and I need it funded.
  • Test: assess if something actually works or not
  • sketch out the grocery store idea, think by doing

Brainstorm on this:

Explore the idea … Shoppers can be triggered to use the app on their phone? Because when waiting for the train they can’t reach it? This way you might be able to collect data and know their eating habbits? Start with a poster? Move to an enhanced screen? Group buying, have multiple people buy into the pot of a common item. Like what Jet.com does? I would probably start with a poster with 3-5 common items that can be delivered via an app, maybe use google/apple pay to actually pay for the items? Try this on the train instead, people are more likely to be stationary there? QR code install I guess? Or appstore PROMO? You can but these 5 items for home. Buy recipes for home?

Maybe you can have a poster that shows 5 recipes for the week. Queue user to go to website, enter in details after they pick a recipe that they can cook it at home, like Blue Appron? This way you don’t have to list a bunch of items, to test if people would even be interested in buying this way?

Test the Devil’s advocate

  • Find the bias by playing devils advocate.
  • The questions can be infinite

Brainstorm on this idea

  • Do people waiting for the subway actually want to buy anything?
  • Would people even trust this? Especially a QR code.
  • Do people need to touch and feel products to feel comfortable with buying them?
  • Groceries are not the only reason why people go to the store. They might buy items they may not be comfortable buying infront of other people? So this may not actually be convenient.
  • Maybe it would be better to just send a prepared meal as oppsoed to the ingredients for it.
  • Would people take the time at the wall when they want to be sure to get a good seat on the train?
  • Does it cost too much for shipping?
  • Dietary restrictions might come into play more then we assume.
  • People huddled in the same space feels too much like Roulette table and may be uncomfortable.
  • Would people be willing to shop for foods in front of people?

Thinking about emotiion is very important!

  • I’ve done this above… woot! “Trust”
  • Explore emotion before answering technical questions. Many-many people try to dive right into technical impplimentations before the pause to consider if there is even any value in the idea to being with.

Would people even engage at the wall?

Find ones that are about engagement?

I’d like to test wether or not people would be willing to buy something without touching it first. So I would have a real human selling items that can be bought virtually, to test that theory. Then we could test Trust of the wall afterwards? Maybe split test where one stand has a person with images of products and the other has physical products?

Create a Hypothisis

I think with a physical vendor selling virtual goods that people will be equally likely to buy a product from a photo of that product…. shit I’m a little confused by this.

Will people be willing to sign up for a grocery system?

On engagement? Hypothisis: If I have a poster that gives away free bread if you signup HERE that 20% of people will commit to that offer?

Note: The above hypothisis sucked.

Better one!

Hypothisis: Will people be more likely to huddle around a shopping area with more people.

DIY: prototyping for experimentation

Design an experiment to test your hypothesis Create real behavour for real situations

[insert PIZZA delivery] image here. that’s a really good one.

$5 by the slice, offered discount if they were willing to tolerate a delay. “Hey it’s $5, but instead of 30 minutes, $3 for 60 minute dilivery?” Then measure.

The name of the game is generate an expierance with smoke and mirrors.

[Insert wizard of OZ testing]

Surveys are crap, people don’t behave like they say they will. We are creatures of habbit.

Ways to ask for interest.

  • google or facebook ads
    • expirement / post ads and mesaure engagement

USe SMS and IFTTT for conecting things together. Get creative, smash things together from whatever place.

What size of a palm pilot would people be willing to carry around with them?

Rapid Prototyping should be something you can do within a week or two, not in a day.

Personal Notes:

  • Functional Programming probably helps with rapid prototyping an product building since there are less side affects and less testing needed?
  • I almost wonder if you need two types of developers on a team, the ones that add experiments quickly and others that a re good at refactoring the code for better performances?
  • I am feeling very validated by this course, I am thinking the right ways to test products, I just need to practice more.