Proof of Concepts and Prototypes in Product Design

Ashutosh Chandra | 12th August 2020

We are seeing an increased need for new products and services rapidly emerge as we come out of lockdown. For startups or established organizations, it’s important to understand the differences between a Proof of Concept (PoC) and a prototype. And also, where and how they can add value in the product design process.

The lines are often blurred between PoCs and prototypes. With organizations looking to jump straight into prototyping or using a prototype for PoC purposes. Either way, it’s important to understand the values of both of them as separate tools. It is because so that when rolling out the products quickly, their effectiveness isn’t lost. There are reputed prototype design services for getting assistance related to PoC and Prototype. Now, let’s understand the concept of “Proof of Concept” and “Prototype” one by one. Let’s begin.

Proof of Concept


Proof of Concepts and Prototypes in Product Design


A proof of concept (POC) is also sometimes called “proof of principle”. It is an exercise that focuses on determining whether an idea can be turned into a reality. The proof of concept approach aims to determine the feasibility of the idea or to verify that the idea will function as envisioned. Generally, it requires some investment of time and resources to develop a proof of concept. The resources may include physical components or supporting technologies. The processes involved in PoC enable businesses to determine an idea’s viability, before putting production-level resources behind an untested idea.

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The value of proof of concept


Proof of Concepts and Prototypes in Product Design


The proof of concept development assists product owners to identify potential technical and logistical issues that might interfere in the process. It offers organizations to solicit internal feedback about a promising product or service. It reduces the unnecessary risk and exposure and gives stakeholders the opportunity to assess design choices early in the development cycle. Finally, the individual or team going through this process can then use a successful proof of concept. With a successful proof of concept, they can convince stakeholders, managers, or investors that the idea is worth pursuing further.


Steps to write a Proof of Concept


Proof of Concepts and Prototypes in Product Design


A PoC plan could address how the proposed product or service will support organizational goals, objectives, or other business requirements. But that step is not the primary objective of the PoC.

The proof-of-concept process should include:

  • Clearly defined criteria for success;
  • Documentation to show how the PoC will be carried out;
  • An evaluation component; and
  • A proposal for showing how to move forward with the PoC that guarantees success.

It is important to develop such a plan. It is because it will determine how an envisioned product or service will ultimately be delivered to users with the fewest number of flaws.


You might also be interested in reading – Effective Ways To A Perfect Product Design Strategy

Reasons to Invest in Proof of Concepts

The key reasons to Invest in Proof of Concepts are to:

  • Test the feasibility
  • Better understand the risks involved
  • Demonstrate the idea

The PoC is usually one of the first tasks we undertake as part of the design process. It enables us to answer any unknowns, understand potential blockers and get buy-in before investing in any further design or testing.




Proof of Concepts and Prototypes in Product Design

Image source: Google image

We can describe a prototype as a model of product design that focuses on answering the “how” questions such as: how will an application look? how will it be made, how will the users interact with it? A prototype answers these questions through wireframes, user flows, and mockups. With prototypes, a prototype design agency assists the founders and stakeholders who invested in a project to see a more detailed version of a product. It shows more details compared to the bare-bones one provided by a POC.


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Developing a prototype is a collective effort. It relies heavily on team communication. While designing a prototype, engineers, designers, and stakeholders should all participate. The founder must convey the product design idea in a way that facilitates the introduction of all crucial elements into the prototype. When the product goes into development, it’ll be easier to accurately reflect the original assumption.

Crafting a prototype also assists the founders to refine the idea behind their product. The more visual the prototype, the easier it is to introduce important changes and dismiss redundant elements. Detailed stakeholder feedback also comes in handy at this stage of development.

A prototype can have many forms:

  • Hand-drawn
  • Interactive (low-fidelity)
  • Interactive (high-fidelity)

Choosing the form appropriate for your project essentially boils down to what exactly we have to test and showcase. Different forms of a prototype offer a different level of graphical resemblance to the final product. Some forms may also include some rudimentary functionalities.

The prototype is an early version of the potential product and therefore requires more investment to get to than a PoC.

Reasons for Building prototypes

The key reasons for building prototypes are to:

  • Test usability early on in the design phase
  • Further demonstrate the product
  • Gauge demand or generate awareness of the product further.

A UI UX design company uses a prototype once the brainstorming part has been completed; we know the problems we are trying to solve and have a view on the solution – this is about testing that view.

Proof of Concept vs. Prototype

Although people often use the terms “proof of concept” and “prototype” interchangeably, they are different processes. They are meant to produce different results and serve different purposes. Where a proof of concept is intended to determine whether an idea can be turned into a reality, a prototype is meant to turn that idea into a slimmed-down version of the end product that can be tested and evaluated for usability, functionality, and design. A prototype is not expected to have all the features and functions of a market-ready product, nor is it expected to contain all the usability or aesthetics of a final product. It gives stakeholders, such as project managers and executives, as well as potential investors, a draft of what the final product might be.


Products that are innovative usually have to go all the way, from a PoC to a prototype. This approach lets us check a product design idea thoroughly before committing significant funds to a full-fledged development process.

Contact Oodles UX consulting agency for assistance in developing your ideas or reacting to change.

About Author


Ashutosh Chandra

Ashutosh is a blogger and technical writer at Oodles, who covers topics ranging from Branding, UI/UX design, Graphic design to other design and technology-related matters.

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