You have been working on your prototype for months or even years. You are ready to move forward. But wait, don’t pass it on to engineering to make it a reality. It’s time to test your prototype.
Most inventors only have one chance to bring a product to market. There are a variety of reasons why products fail – the product was launched in the wrong market at the wrong time, the product fixed an issue that no one was looking for, or the product did not understand the needs and wants of consumers.
So far, hopefully you’ve tested the prototype yourself to make sure it works properly, maybe even with a few people. Now is the time to test and get feedback. Do people like your design? Do you understand how it works? Do people want such a product? Who is your target audience?
Testing with a larger group of people will give you the feedback you need to test and the time to refine your ideas to make the necessary product changes before moving on to manufacturing and marketing.
Are you doing everything you can to increase your product’s chances of success? Feedback on your prototype can help you understand your market much better. It will help you improve your product to maximize its sales opportunities. You can use this feedback to improve your product, gather public opinion about it, see if people want to buy it, and get a feel for what a customer might be willing to pay for it.
The mechanical or digital tests have taken place. Now is the time to get the invaluable customer feedback you need. The sooner the better. It is important to get this feedback before launching your product. Things that are clear to you may not be so clear to a customer.
In the early stages, tests from your team or family members may be sufficient. However, as you near completion, you should test a larger group of users for the necessary and helpful feedback. You also want to receive feedback from investors, manufacturers, retailers, or distributors. The more the better.
There are many ways you can get feedback. If it’s a children’s toy, you may want to watch children of the right age use or play with the prototype. You may want to use several different versions of the prototype when looking for feedback. This allows the user to choose the version that they like best. This gives you honest feedback about likes or dislikes of certain versions.
Make sure the people you’re getting feedback from are actually using your product. If you were a cook wanting to see what people think of a new steak recipe, a lot of vegetarians wouldn’t try your steak for obvious reasons. When you receive feedback on your prototype, consider who can and will use your product. Take into account things like age, gender, and location. Your product will likely have more specific demographics, such as the vegetarian example.
Questions to Ask
Your prototype should be tested with the correct questions that you want to answer. Make sure you know what you are testing for. Are you testing the mechanics of the prototype, the design or the usability of your product? Focus on the answers you want to know and openly listen to negative feedback about your product. Use this information to create the best prototype for your target customer.
If you want to receive honest feedback, you need to be neutral. Ask and listen to the answer from those who test. If you are emotionally connected, have someone else do the tests for you. Remember, it’s all about improving your product, making it easy to use and, in the end, saving you money. Be open-minded and willing to make changes or even drop the project if necessary.
Ask questions like:
- “What do you like about the product?”
- “What would you change about that?”
- “How would you use this product to solve it (insert problem here)?”
- “If there was one thing you could do better about this product, what would it be?”
- “How much would you pay for it?”
- “On a scale from 1 to 10, if you saw this in a store, how much would you care about this product?”
- “How does this product feel?”
- “Is it too hard or too easy?”
- “Does it feel good in your hands?”
- “Do you see this product solving an important problem?”
- “Is the product easy to use?”
- “Does the product make sense?”
- “Do you see features that are missing in the product?” “If yes, what?”
Your target group will advise you on the component or function of your product. Use this information to make any necessary changes to the prototype. This information can be of great benefit in marketing and selling your product. Ask the user what they would like to improve or change. What do you think? Would you use a product like this?
If not, what changes would they make. Even if you don’t use this feedback to modify the prototype, you will still receive valuable feedback on how your users are observing or viewing this product.
Your prototype shouldn’t be set in stone before testing it with a large group of people. Allow for input, advice, and suggestions to make any necessary changes to your prototype before manufacturing and bringing your product to market.