Once you and your team have created storyboards, you’ll spend the fourth day of the sprint creating a prototype. In “Sprint”, Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz talk about a “fake it” approach to turn a storyboard into a realistic prototype.
The fourth day of your sprint is all about illusion; instead of taking weeks, months, or even years to create the real thing, you’re going to fake it. Knapp, Zeratsky and Kowitz talk about building a facade (see Fig. 1 below). The main acceptance criterion for a successful facade is that it needs to be real enough to test with real customer on the fifth and final day of the sprint.
Fig. 1 – Building a realistic prototype
You and your team are only allowed to spend a single day on creating a facade, and that’s deliberate. Knapp, Zeratsky and Kowitz explain that the more time you spend on creating a prototype the more likely you are to become attached to it, and less likely to make any changes based on customer feedback (see Fig. 2 below).
Fig. 2 – Becoming attached:
Similar to what Josh Wexler and Mike Fishbein talk about in their book, there’s an explanation of “the prototype mindset” in Sprint (pp. 168 – 170):
- You can prototype anything – If you go into the fourth day of your sprint with optimism and a conviction that there is some way to prototype and test your product, you’ll find a way.
- Prototypes are disposable – Don’t prototype anything you aren’t willing to throw away. Remember: this solution might not work.
- Build just enough to learn, but no more – The prototype is meant to answer questions, so keep it focused. You don’t need a fully functional product. You just need a real-looking facade to which customers can react.
- The prototype must appear real – To get trustworthy results in your test on the fifth and final day of your sprint, you can’t ask your customers to use their imaginations. You’ve got to show them something realistic. If you do, their realistic. If you do, their reactions will be genuine.
I love the concept of “Goldilocks quality”, which was introduced by Daniel Burka. Burka argues that the ideal prototype should be of Goldilocks quality. If the quality is too low, people won’t believe the prototype is a real product. If the quality is too high, you’ll be working all night and you won’t finish. You need Goldilocks quality; not too high, not too low, but just right (see Fig. 3 below).
Fig. 3 – “Goldilocks quality”
Once you’ve created the right prototype, you and your team should do a quick trial run on the afternoon of the fourth day of your sprint. This will give you a chance to fix any mistakes or issues with your prototype, before you test it with real customers the following day.
Main learning point: Don’t get too hung up on the realness of your prototype! It needs to be real enough to test with customers on the final day of your sprint, no more and no less.
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