The "Rapid Prototyping" Mindset

The "Rapid Prototyping" Mindset



What is this for? This is a guide about how to think in small experiments when testing big new ideas. You'll also find a quick activity below that can be done with any team to plan rapid, simple tests to validate if an idea is worth investing more time in. Mindset and core principles A fundamental principle of Design Thinking is to test ideas quickly. Rapid prototyping is a proven way to get early validation and reduce the uncertainty and risk of new initiatives.

Here's a helpful 2-min video that explains what rapid prototyping is, and why it's so valuable

What is rapid prototyping?

"Rapid prototyping" means finding ways to quickly simulate a solution idea (and test it with real customers) before investing time and resources to build the real thing.

Here's an example:


Revolutionary new car design

Time to build: 3 years Cost: $$ Millions


Rapid prototype

A simple webpage to test reactions and gauge interest

Time to build: 1 day


Ways to prototype & test an idea

Rapid prototyping can be done in a number of ways. Some of the most common and useful methods are:

  • Paper prototypes (sketching the concept on paper)
Clickable digital prototypes (a "fake" website or app that appears real - without coding)
A simple web page or Powerpoint (to showcase the idea)
  • Physical prototypes (e.g. using craft materials, pieces from other products, 3D printing, etc.)


For more examples and guidance on exactly how to test a prototype see


When to use rapid prototyping

  • If the idea is simple, non-critical and can be tested easily:
    • Go ahead and create a prototype on your own
  • If the solution is business critical, more complex, or involves multiple stakeholders:
    • It's wise to align with the relevant team members and/or stakeholders on how to prototype and test the idea
    • Use the activity below with a group to find the most effective way to test the idea with a prototype that will answer key questions with minimal investment.

20-min activity: "Ways to Test"

Use this easy activity in any meeting to get input and alignment from a group on how to test the idea quickly:

Additional Resources


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