A great product has these traits
- It’s something people want or love
It’s at price people want to pay for it
It’s easy for people to pick it up or have it delivered
It has benefits that are easy to talk about
If you missed the preceding posts on how to develop your idea and build a team make sure you read them at the end of this post.
The good people at Basecamp wrote a succinct guide to creating a prototype at a tech startup.
Go from brainstorm to sketches to HTML to coding
Follow this process but remember, if it takes you more than 2 weeks to create your prototype then stop and ship whatever you have that the user will like to use.
Come up with ideas. What is this product going to do? For Basecamp, we looked at our own needs. We wanted to post project updates. We wanted clients to participate. We knew that projects had milestones. We wanted to centralize archives so people could easily review old stuff. We wanted to have a big-picture, bird’s-eye view of what’s going on with all our projects. Together, those assumptions, and a few others, served as our foundation.
This stage is not about nitty gritty details. This is about big questions. What does the app need to do? How will we know when it’s useful? What exactly are we going to make? This is about high level ideas, not pixel-level discussions. At this stage, those kinds of details just aren’t meaningful.
2 Paper sketches
Sketches are quick, dirty, and cheap and that’s exactly how you want to start out. Draw stuff. Scrawl stuff. Boxes, circles, lines. Get your ideas out of your head and onto paper. The goal at this point should be to convert concepts into rough interface designs. This step is all about experimentation. There are no wrong answers.
Upload paper sketches or link via Dropbox or Google Drive
3 Create HTML screens
Make an html version of that feature (or section or flow, if it’s more appropriate). Get something real posted so everyone can see what it looks like on screen.
For Basecamp, we first did the “post a message” screen, then the “edit a message” screen, and it went on from there.
Don’t write any programming code yet. Just build a mock-up in html and css. Implementation comes later.
Upload screenshots or link via Dropbox or Google Drive
4 Code it
When the mock-up looks good and demonstrates enough of the necessary functionality, go ahead and plug in the programming code.
During this whole process remember to stay flexible and expect multiple iterations. You should feel free to throw away the deliverable of any particular step and start again if it turns out crappy. It’s natural to go through this cycle multiple times.
For non-technical founders, follow these steps
A. Validate idea
Find out if someone else apart from you needs your product.
Find out who the competition is and speak with their customers directly or email them to ask questions. If you find interested and willing to pay customers you may have something on your hands.
One of the easiest ways to do this is consulting. Whether you are creating a B2B or B2C business, you can find one person or business that is looking for your solution.
What you do next is to offer to solve their problem in exchange for a small fee or better still, ask for the full fee promising a money back guarantee if your product does not work.
Consulting in the beginning is good because it brings in cash at the early stages and much needed feedback and traction.
Who are you going to pitch to first?
B. Present idea visually
Instead of waiting for a developer, do what you can.
If you can write down the content needed for the product, do it.
If you can draw the screens of the app on paper or create mock ups with Photoshop, do it.
Imagine you were told the best developer in the world wants to start working on your app for free
tomorrow morning. His only condition is that you give him as much information as possible.
Would you create a visual representation? Of course you would.
Do it now.
C. Find someone to build prototype on Upwork, Elance, College campus, Craigslist or Elance
Look for people who have built something in the past and are self motivated to work on your idea.
D. Give specific feedback
E. Identify what else you’ll need such as blog, analytics software, crm, email provider
List tools you will need once you launch
Email provider :mailchimp, get response, aweber, infusionsoft
Analytics:google analytics, mix panel
F. Test and launch
Share the product with all those who can give you useful feedback.
Make sure the minimum necessary feature set is working.
Read this for more detailed steps http://www.ashread.com/a-6-step-survival-guide-for-non-technical-founders/
and this https://gettingreal.37signals.com/ch06_From_Idea_to_Implementation.php
P.S You may looking for more ways to improve your marketing in your startup. Here are some more tips on how to get more customers, increase sales or increase your startup’s profits. Starthere