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Pretotyping: Test your idea before development - and ensure product relevance in changing markets

By employing a pretotyping method, businesses can test innovative ideas on the market, learn from the feedback and make early stage "go or no-go" decisions – before investing time and money in development.

When market demands change, so should your offerings. In a time where companies are readily trying to disrupt themselves and their markets before the competition, the relevance of launching completed digital solutions is eluding. Instead, the trend is to test your ideas in the very early stages and make a "go/no-go" decision based on market data and customer feedback – before investing time and money in prototypes or finished solutions.


Fail fast, recover fast
The term of pretotyping is basically a "fail fast, recover fast" method for launching new digital services, ideas, and products. Pretotyping is a quick test of an idea and a way to explore whether the idea is worth the stake.

Pretotyping is defined as the basic understanding that "data beats opinion". The concept is to test the idea in an inexpensive and non-time-consuming way in order to collect valuable market and user data. This allows for an early and qualitative evaluation of whether your idea meets the needs and expectations of the target group. But testing it once is not enough. Pretotyping operates with the terms ILI (initial level of interest) and OLI (on-going level of interest), which indicates whether the idea is successful in the long run. The ILI might be high, but if the OLI turns out not to meet the mark, your idea is failing.

With pretotyping, you can quickly pull the plug on ideas that haven’t quite hit home yet. This leaves you the time, money and enthusiasm to either try some fine-tuning or experiment with brand new ideas until you discover what your target audience really wants.

Pretotyping digital ideas – examples and methods
One of the greater examples of digital pretotyping is the wine-app Vivino, which allows users to scan a wine label and receive basic information of the wine. The creators launched the app with an extremely limited database of wines and left it to the users to continually contribute with wines and reviews. The first versions weren’t even based on technological algorithms – instead, when a user scanned a wine label in search for information, Vivino employees based in India ran a manual Google-search and uploaded the results to the app.

The Vivino example used the so-called Mechanical Turk-method, where you substitute technology with humans, thus allowing the creators to test their idea without having to build expensive IT infrastructure. Today, more than 250,000 new labels are added daily.

Another way to develop a digital pretotype is to create a Minimal Viable Product (MVP), which is a functional version of your idea, but limited to its most basic functionality. You can even supplement with the so-named Provincial method, which is to run a test on a very small sample before launching world-wide, thus limiting the amount of data you need significantly.

One of the more famous pretotypes were created by McDonald’s that wanted to test the potential popularity of a new menu offering – and simply put the product on the menu in selected restaurants without being able to actual offer it. They could then track the number of requests for the product.

A digital equivalent to the McDonald’s example would be to pretend that your app or feature actually exists by implementing links, web buttons or even web ads to see if anybody clicks on it – the Fake Door Pretotype method. 

Using these methods – and many more – a company can gather data on, for instance, the market demand and the target group and monitor what feedback their proposed idea it is getting, thus providing the developers with an opportunity to use the accumulated data to validate, modify or perhaps scrap the digital idea completely before it becomes a costly affair – and before it becomes outdated.


Are you ready to pretotype your idea?
Are your company considering a new digital product or service? Are you contemplating new processes? Before you invest too much time and effort, it might be worth to test your idea using pretotyping.

Book a meeting with NNIT’s pretotyping specialists to find out how you can determine the level of interest and your target groups reaction to the idea.





Massimo Giulio Caterinomgxc@nnit.comPrincipal Solution Specialist Giulio Caterino



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