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Difference between an MVP and a prototype

Soraya
6 min read

Creating a Prototype and building an MVP are both smart approaches to start product development. Nevertheless, they differ quite a lot from each other and each has its specific uses.

What is a prototype?

A prototype is an interactive digital version of a product that allows you to explore your ideas and show the intention behind a feature or a product to users before spending time and money on development.

In a nutshell, a high-fidelity digital prototype design is a draft version of a future product (software, app) that can be seen and touched.

Prototypes are a great starting point for creating a digital product. A prototype helps you to acquire funding and to validate your idea.

What is an MVP (Minimum Viable Product)?

An MVP is the simplest version of your product with which you can actually provide value to your users. Building a simple but well-functioning version of your final product ensures that you can go live and do business quickly.

A minimum viable product is a version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early customers who can then provide feedback for future product development.

To build an MVP you have to choose features that are from one side bring the greatest value to your users and from the other side are the fastest/easiest/cheapest to implement. To select the right features you have to think both as a user of your product and as an entrepreneur. Thinking in business terms helps you to control development costs while choosing the features to add maximum value to your product from the users perspective.

An MVP consists of the ideal set of some of these features that make your product “launchable”.

How is an MVP different from a Prototype?

A prototype revolves around the presentation of the idea to stakeholders and proving the proof of concept. An MVP can also do this, but it requires more resources to do that. There are many types of prototypes, ranging anywhere between two extremes – Lo- and High-fidelity prototypes. A low-fidelity prototype is a quick and easy tangible representation of a concept, a user flow, or an information structure created for getting prompt feedback. With a high-fidelity prototype, companies can prove the concept or idea of their product before the actual development, get users feedback, and acquire funding.

On the other hand, MVP is a good technique for realizing a product. It is the first iteration of your product that should be good enough to solve a problem for your users. MVP should be good enough to immediately realize revenue from a smaller group of early adopters.

Prototypes are not used as a real product, while an MVP is. Nevertheless, high fidelity prototypes usually look much like the final product and the designs used for its creation is used as a base for the building of the MVP.

The main differences between an MVP and a Prototype

  • An MVP is the actual realisation of the first version of a product. A prototype tests the feasibility of a concept.
  • A prototype serves as a presentation to stakeholders, and an MVP is built for early adopters to generate revenue and learn from their feedback.
  • A prototype is a mock-up. An MVP is the first version of the actual product ready to be launched.

Benefits of an MVP

  • Launching a product on the market as soon as possible
  • Generating direct revenue
  • Starting collecting feedback right away
  • The basis for any other products
  • Effective spending of development hours

Benefits of prototyping

  • Idea Validation
  • User involvement & quantifiable user feedback
  • Higher user satisfaction
  • Reduces development time & costs
  • Better chances of attracting clients and investors

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