Undoubtedly, all businesses are constantly searching for new products to meet the increasing market demands and boost their competitiveness and market share. They also want to start new business initiatives, increase business growth, and provide unique customer experiences.
However, to confirm the business concept, every well-designed software item should be tested with actual users before the product launch. It is possible through proof of concept and a product prototype. This article will explain everything you need about prototypes and proof of concept. Let's get started!
What is a Proof of Concept (PoC)?
A proof of concept is a robust solution for companies to validate the viability of modern ideas. Its primary objective is to test the idea's underlying general assumptions and ensure it can be implemented technically. A PoC can be a working part of the final product developed with a particular technology to prove that the software can address a specific business issue.
A proof of concept failure saves significant time and money on development. If the result is positive, the team will know it has the necessary technology and that developing the entire product is feasible. The most effective and precise way to test critical theories and confirm core beliefs about the intended audience and the software concept is through a proof of concept.
Your new business concept's potential for development is assessed through a proof of concept. Once you see that this phase has finished, the project will move to the subsequent development process. If it is not approved, the product will be rejected for the next phase. Thus, proof of concept is vital for addressing the most crucial problems, and it is unnecessary to be publicly available.
Proof of Concept (PoC) examples
For example, a proof of concept can be some clinical practice developed to learn product details in the health industry. A PoC in software development would be determining whether it is technically feasible to establish a new mobile payment method for your app.
What is a prototype?
A prototype is a product model to test the functionality and UX/UI design concept. It implements some features and shows how the final version of the product will look. Prototyping is a solution that can be used to find out user difficulties and learn user behavior while using the application.
If you want to develop a prototype, you need different tools to check the product's working, usability, and various features. A prototype is considered a first draft if the proof of concept confirms that the product has all the necessary features.
Moreover, a prototype is a complicated, repetitive process. It enables the team to find mistakes in the initial production phases. You can see significant changes in the early stage of the development process. It can be some user testing where the interactions that users will have with your product are specified. Indeed, prototyping addresses early input on the UX and UI, whereas a proof of concept focuses more on technical capability.
Prototypes can take many forms depending on the industry and the specific project. Some product prototypes are miniature product versions, and others are created for investors. The most popular types are hand-sketched paper prototypes, 3D prints, digital prototypes, and scale models.
PoC vs. prototype: are they similar?
You may have heard of concept vs prototype comparisons – so let's find out the similarities.
In product development, prototype and proof of concept (PoC) are related terms but have different functions and purposes. Although both are experimental, a proof of concept's technical viability is the primary goal of creating a PoC. It seeks to determine if a particular technique or technology can complete a specific task.
PoCs are typically low fidelity and focused, highlighting the viability of the core concept. Ultimately, a proof of concept aims to provide evidence that a particular concept is viable and worth pursuing further or to identify issues that must be addressed before moving forward with a larger project or investment.
In contrast, a prototype is developed to test and illustrate a possible system or product's functionality, user experience, and design. Prototypes can be anything from high-fidelity working models to low-fidelity mockups, frequently more detailed. Later in the project, they are created to evaluate practicality, aesthetics, and user interaction.
The major difference: PoC vs prototype
Proof of concept and prototype have different purposes in developing and validating ideas. Let's learn about all the differences between proof of concept and prototype:
- Proof of Concept: verifying a concept or idea's viability is its primary goal. PoCs are aimed at verifying the viability of the core concept.
- Prototype: a potential product or system's functionality, design, and user experience are tested and demonstrated through prototypes. The question "What will the final product look and act like?" is what they seek to address.
- Proof of Concept: PoCs usually have a more constrained scope and focus on a single, technical, or specific component of the idea.
- Prototype: more features, such as design, functionality, and user interaction, can be included in prototypes of a system or product.
- Proof of Concept: PoCs are often low fidelity and might not look like the final product. They may require little development work and are designed to test ideas quickly.
- Prototype: prototypes differ in terms of fidelity. While some may be high fidelity and closely resemble the final product's functionality and design, others may be low fidelity and concentrate on basic functionality.
Stage of development
- Proof of Concept: PoCs are typically created at the earliest stages of a project to evaluate whether it's worth pursuing future development.
- Prototype: prototypes are created later, often after a successful PoC, to refine and visualize the concept.
- Proof of Concept: PoCs focus on answering technical questions related to the concept, such as whether a specific technology can perform a particular task.
- Prototype: prototypes assess user experience, design, and functionality that enable user feedback and testing of the product's practicality.
So, to sum things up – a basic idea or technology is tested in a proof of concept, usually in a limited scope and with low fidelity. On the other hand, a prototype is a more sophisticated model that evaluates the functionality, design, and user experience of a possible system, product, or concept; these tests are frequently conducted with a broader scope and different degrees of fidelity.
Proof of Concept vs. Prototype: which one should you choose?
You can choose between a prototype and a proof of concept based on the objectives and requirements of the project. The first can be an excellent option if you are in the early development phase and must confirm whether a new idea or technology is feasible. PoCs are appropriate for answering the primary query, "Can it work?" Usually, they are low-fidelity, low-cost experiments meant to confirm a central hypothesis.
However, a prototype is the best option if you've determined your idea is technically feasible and want to test its usability, design, and functionality. The question "What will it look and act like?" can be concretely answered with the help of prototypes. They help to visualize the final product.
In many cases, PoCs and prototypes are used sequentially, with the PoC coming first to validate feasibility and the prototype following to refine and visualize the concept before moving into full-scale development. The decision ultimately is based on your project's specific requirements and objectives.
To develop a product, you must learn the significant difference between a prototype and a proof of concept. We know both can offer unique functions and contribute substantially by turning your idea into a viable product. You can make well-informed decisions and strategically guide your product from an idea to a successful launch by knowing the proof of concept and prototype details.
This article examined the definitions, functions, and distinctions between prototypes and proof of concept. Remember that a proof of concept aims to investigate and confirm the viability of your idea while lowering any possible risks. Once the concept is workable, a prototype is implemented to provide a physical model for improving the design, usability, and user experience.
In short, the choice between a PoC and a prototype depends on the project's specific goals and stage, and they are used sequentially first to establish feasibility with a PoC and then refine the concept with a prototype.