Test your assumptions. Prototyping best practices.

How to test your assumptions and build great products?

Prototyping best practices – Thomas de Souza and Paulina Barlik

Start with a problem, not a fantasy

There are a few steps that have to be repeatedly taken in order to make the product successful – these are doing research, creating Proof of Concept, testing your idea and making sure people not only like it but are also willing to pay for it.

Research – a first step to a successful product development

Let’s start with the research – simplest and most efficient way to do it is actually going out and interacting with your potential customers.

Nowadays, it’s really easy to track and reach out to actually any target group.

Is your product designed for casual people? Go out and talk to random strangers on the streets.

Is it for restaurants, coffee shops? Go there, talk with real people, ask the right questions.

Maybe your solution will improve the lives of “white collar workers”?
It’s simple, use your linkedin profile!

If you don’t have the time or don’t know how to do it, try using a company that specializes in doing market research, beware though as it’s your products and you should know best who your target group should be and what they want.

Be process driven

Creating processes in order to solve a given problem is considered a best practice.

First step to create the process is of course identifying the problem, which can be achieved by doing proper research.
After the problem is known, let’s create the actual processes – in case of the product development it can be: Plan -> Test -> Create -> Test -> Improve -> Test.

Each step in the process will consist of other few steps, and following them should be as simple as possible, following the known rule “How to eat an elephant? One bite at a time”.

Create a diverse team

Build your team from different people looking at things from different perspectives, through different glasses.

Let’s take a management team consisting of a programmer, UX designer and a marketer.

All of them will have their own opinion about the product, depending on who they are, but none of them will be 100% right – opinion that matters most is the opinion of the client, a stranger that encounters the product.

Few of the basic questions you can ask your potential client about are:

What does he think about it?
Would he use this product?
Does it solve any problem for him or improves/makes his life easier?
Would you pay x euros for it?

Experience their problem, feel it and it will allow you to be able to prototype it well.

Good ideas are e.g. doing design sprints and hackathons in your group. Few hours/days of brainstorming and working on a project often gives great results. When you’ve already designed the prototype, test it even more.

What was proved by Thomas’ experience and even what Jeff Bezos recommends is creating small teams of up to 6 people. Even if the company is big and still growing, divide people into small teams as it provides the best results.

Build not only the product, but also the company behind it – create a well organism in which all parts are working well with each other and all are important factors of a company’s success.


It’s possible to quickly create successful products at the small costs but it takes a lot of effort and dedication.

Few key factors are:

A good research. Talk about your idea, make sure it’s actually solving a problem and that people are going to pay for it, then spend money on the development process. Remember that most of the ideas fail, even those backed-up by big funds – if people don’t want your products, no money can save it.

On the other hand, if they will love it – it will go viral and people will actually promote it themselves.

Create processes. Go out, interact, talk with strangers, collect data, analyse, test, develop, improve, test.

Create processes around your product to make sure that everything goes into one, desired direction.

Team. Make sure that people working around you are dedicated to the idea. Work in small teams, look at things from different perspectives

Want to know more about product development or need advice? Reach out to us via contact form and we will answer any questions as soon as possible.

Good luck!

Meet our speakers

Tomas de Souza joined WordDiagnostics in March after six years as intrapreneur and director of innovation at Swedish media house Bonnier. Tomas has a background as founder and CEO of several media related companies with strategic and tactical experience from digital transformation and digital business development.

Paulina Barlik – An experienced design researcher with a background in sociology and strategic planning, currently helping Shopify Online team understand the needs of our buyers, merchants and Shopify Theme partners.

User research advocate and author of Guide to UXR, build to educate designers about UXR fundamentals. A community organizer at UXR Circle, first Montreal research meetup.


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