It takes quite some time for a new product to reach the market. A lot of work has to be done before the final product reaches the masses. It takes only a single press release to foster media attention and make it known to the general public whenever a new product is launched or improvisation is made to the old one but months or even years of conceptualization and development is done before this could be made possible.
Before a potential product could hit the market or a physical product could be created, a product development team is created that usually consists of engineers and marketing and advertising professionals whose job is to look where the need of the product is and for that matter get customer feedback, focus groups, conduct interviews and to get input from the marketing gurus to get ideas how the product could be designed to be effective for the targeted customers.
The product is just a concept first and it only exists in theory. Specifications are added to the basic model and this gives basis to a preliminary model which is developed to create the very first prototype.
Between the brainstorming and the manufacturing that is brought about at large scale, there is this prototyping stage which is quite extensive and elaborate. The process of prototyping may vary from industry to industry and is therefore not a uniform procedure that can be followed by everyone. The prototype forms its shape after deliberate strategizing. The following types of prototypes in product design are known:
- Proof Of Principle
Appearance of the prototype is not of substance in this particular type of prototype in product design. What matters most is the functionality of the prototype. The design of this particular prototype is characterized by its functionality. Before the final design could be approved, the functionality of this prototype has to be tested.
- Form Study
The prototype is a very close match to the final product. The appearance and functionality does not matter in this particular prototype as these are not the characteristics that are used to analyze the prototype although both qualities influence in designing the final product.
- User Experience
The research to shape up the final design focuses on the response and sensitivity of the users to the product. The prototype is created as close to the final product as possible and this helps in the research too.
Functionality as a characteristic is not analyzed in this type of prototype but the design and aesthetics, which generally include the colour, surface and texture, are very similar to that of the final product.
Though the size may be smaller, this particular prototype has a very close resemblance to the product that is finally manufactured. The aesthetics, materials used and functionality is the same as the final product.
The prototyping phases in product design are repeated until everybody involved in the design and creation of the model is satisfied. These persons may include the engineer, the marketers and the end users. A variety of materials are involved in creating the design of the prototype. These materials may include paper sketches and breadboards that may be used in the early phases of designing prototypes. Other materials may include softwares that may be incorporated in the advanced design and also materials that improve the functionality of the prototype design.
The design of the prototype is analyzed from every angle. Characteristics that are considered in the analysis include the appearance and functionality of the prototype. As more and more revisions are made in the design of the prototype, the changes brought about by researchers and developers are incorporated to shape up the prototype.
When the final product is launched, the prototype plays a major part. Analysis is conducted by marketers and advertisers on the prototype before the product is manufactured on a large scale for launch campaigns, press as well as for packaging.