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Recently I wrote an small prototype that uses some relatively new technology. Now I wanted to verify if this prototype is usefull and could be used in real world example. But now I have a problem, how can I do that?

  • Normally, it would be a good thing to compare the prototype with already existing similar applications and compare if you perform better, provide better usability, etc. Since I'm not aware of something similar, this is quite difficult

  • Normally, I would see if the requirements of the customers are met. But there aren't any real requirements and no real customers. It as just an idea.

So the problem is, how can I get feedback on my prototype to see how it is accepted by potential users and what should be improved in a real implementation?

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As a side note, since "there aren't any real requirements", the title of your post is a bit confusing. –  Péter Török Feb 17 '11 at 14:04
    
Prototypes do not meet requirements. They are a prototype for a reason. –  Chris Feb 17 '11 at 15:07
    
@Chris: I'm not sure if this is correct. If a prototype doesn't meets any requirements, why is it a prototype? –  RoflcoptrException Feb 17 '11 at 15:09
    
A prototype is to demonstrate what the end result will yield. Usually this is a wireframe showing what a web page might look like, or a UI facade that shows how the interface will appear with out functionality coded behind it. –  Chris Feb 17 '11 at 15:29
    
Just do what Apple does and tell everyone what they are. –  JeffO Feb 17 '11 at 17:08
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5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Ask potential users to test it. If there are no potential users, or you have no idea how to reach them, the idea is basically worthless.

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Beta Test it and\or perform Hall way usability testing.

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First of all I would try to write out a spec for myself, and make sure I hit that. I would show that spec to some people and then say "does this look useful?". Then find a few potential users, and sit them down with the application and ask them to use it for a few hours. (you may have to pay them a few bucks)

Thats what I would do at least.

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...how can I get feedback on my prototype to see how it is accepted by potential users and what should be improved in a real implementation?

By getting potential users to use it. :)

Putting it out as a beta is one way, but you lose the chance to watch and observe people using it.

I would say before going beta, do a few rounds of usability testing. This will give you the opportunity to watch people as they use your application and you can see what works and what doesn't.

A good book that gives you a quick and dirty template on usability testing is Rocket Surgery Made Easy. Some will say it's pretty common sense stuff, but I really like how it gives you a script and a list of things you need to do to have a successful testing session.

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Dev: Hey user, test this program! /User: Why? /Dev: Because I made it. /User: What is the purpose? /Dev: I am not sure. /User: (Conversation Ignored) –  DarkStar33 Feb 17 '11 at 18:09
    
@DarkStar33 - I have no idea what your comment means.... –  Tyanna Feb 17 '11 at 18:26
    
@Tyana its intended to be a conversation between user and dev. Basically unless there is a business reason for a user to be testing your product they typically wont. –  DarkStar33 Feb 17 '11 at 23:13
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Interesting question, i thought once the same thing, and my only answer is promote yourself: Facebook, Twitter, Paste paper flyers everywhere, tell your friends. I guess that if your idea is good and people like it, then you'll receive your feedback.

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