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Webinar: Prototyping to reduce risk

Rhian Lewis | May, 2024

We today hosted the latest in our Thoughts Unboxed webinar series, "Prototyping to reduce risk," in which we focused on the pivotal role of prototyping in the product development lifecycle. Unboxeder Jo Oliveira and I introduced a panel of experts, including Laura Smith, Unboxed's lead designer, Martyn Evans, director at Unboxed, and Richard Stobart, founder and director at EV charging network builder, who has extensive experience of prototyping both software and hardware products.

2.1 Read Learning visiontypes

An introductory presentation by Laura showcased a wide range of prototyping experiences, from simple conversations and paper-based sessions right through to more sophisticated digital offerings. The slides included references to's cardboard lamppost prototype (if you're curious, watch the video!) and some examples of where big names such as Google and YouTube got it right (and wrong).

"The lower the fidelity of the prototype, the faster you can test it and the more feedback you get" - Richard Stobart

During the panel discussion, we were able to take an in-depth look at some of the topics touched on in Laura's presentation.

Many people imagine that hardware prototyping is all about fancy 3-D printing and sophisticated gadgets, but Richard revealed a rather lower-tech initial approach involving polystyrene and cardboard. (In case you're wondering about the reason for this, it was crucial for to be able to show both local authorities and potential users exactly what a lamppost EV charger would look like.)

Martyn spoke about the need to make users of the prototype understand that they were not looking at the finished product, and also revealed a technique he uses to encourage people involved in testing the prototype to open up without feeling they are being rude or critical about the product idea.

"Prototyping isn’t always about making things - one method we used recently was a simple conversation" - Laura Smith

Laura answered a question that is often asked: what is the delineation point between MVP and prototype, as well as sharing her thoughts on no-code prototypes, including those built with the Government Design Service (GDS) kit.

All agreed that the most important result of their prototyping experiences has been the invaluable lessons learned, giving the opportunity to pivot where necessary and build products that people actually want to use and will enjoy using.

"You can gradually increase fidelity and polish to the prototype as your confidence in the solution grows" - Martyn Evans

We ended the session with a brief question-and-answer session from listeners. My favourite question was: "How do you explain to an 11-year-old what a prototype is?" Great answers from Richard, Martyn and Laura rounded off what we hope was a useful and enjoyable webinar for everyone who attended.

Stay tuned for Unboxed's upcoming webinars, and join the conversation on prototyping and innovation in the digital age.


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