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MVP vs Prototype vs PoC: Are They Same?

MVP, prototype, and PoC are three different approaches to adopt before starting a full product development. However, many don’t know the difference between each and skip these crucial stages. We ensure you don’t repeat the same. Here is everything about MVP vs Prototype vs PoC and when to use each approach.

MVP vs Prototype vs PoC: Are They Same?

What is Proof of Concept?

You have an idea but is it technically feasible? In other words, check whether the technology exists or not to bring your idea to life. This is Proof of Concept or PoC.

It is the first step of product development. Think of PoC as a low-fidelity experiment to prove a specific concept or functionality. They are typically developed quickly and internally, focusing on core technical aspects rather than aesthetics or user experience.

Why Build a PoC?

Developing a full-fledged product requires a significant investment of time and resources. Any roadblocks can turn your hard work into a waste if not handled properly.

A PoC reduces this risk by identifying potential technical roadblocks early on. By demonstrating feasibility, it helps you decide whether to proceed with further development or modify your idea.

What is a Prototype?

Let's say your product is technically possible. What’s next? The next step is to explore how users (your customers )will interact with the product.

A prototype of the product helps you visualize this interaction. It also helps you test design concepts, user flows, and overall user experience.

Examples include low-fidelity sketches, wireframes, to high-fidelity mockups. Unlike PoC, a prototype focuses on visualizing the look and feel of the final product.

Why a Prototype is Must?

There are several reasons and benefits to designing a prototype rather than jumping directly to product development.

  1. It gives you early feedback on user interaction with your product.
  2. It helps you identify potential issues before the development.
  3. It saves you from the risk and money loss that comes later with a defective product.
  4. It helps you effectively communicates the product visualization with the developers and stakeholders.
  5. It improves the product’s usability and user experience.

After successfully designing a prototype comes the next stage which is developing a minimum viable product.

What is an MVP?

It’s the real first version of your product but with minimum features required for functioning. The main purpose behind developing an MVP is to understand whether the product meets customer needs or not.

Also Read: Benefits of Developing an MVP

MVP vs Prototype vs PoC: The Major Differences

Now you have learned what is PoC, MVP, and prototype and the purpose behind each, let's shed light on their differences.

Here's a breakdown of each difference mentioned in the table.

Purpose

PoC: Focuses on the technical side. It aims to answer the question, "Can we even build this?"

Prototype: Shifts the focus to design and user experience. It helps in knowing how the target audience will interact with the product.  

MVP: Seeks to validate the product itself in the market. It helps in knowing if the product needed. MVPs are launched for real users to know their opinions and assess market validation.

Functionality

PoC: It is just a demonstration of a product with minimal features or a focus on a single core function.

Prototype: Prototypes can be simple or complex. Low-fidelity prototypes might be sketches or wireframes that display the basic layout and user flow. High-fidelity prototypes are more polished ones. 

MVP: They are not feature-complete, but they are usable and allow users to experience the core value proposition.

Audience  

PoC: Internal teams, such as engineers and stakeholders are the audience.

Prototype: The development team and potential users will use the prototype and give feedback.

MVP: Here the audience is actual users for whom the product is developed.

Development Time & Cost

PoC: Quick and cheap to develop.

Prototype: Low-fidelity prototypes are quicker and cheaper to create, while high-fidelity prototypes require more investment.

MVP: This takes more time and resources compared to PoCs and prototypes.

Release

PoC: Not for public use as the product is only a concept.

Prototype: Usually not released to the public but can be.  

MVP: Made public only to a few users for testing.

Also Read: Mistakes to Avoid During MVP Development

When to Use Each Approach?

Use a PoC when: You have a highly technical or complex idea and need to confirm its technical feasibility before investing further. For example, imagine an idea for a new self-driving car feature. A PoC could focus on testing the core algorithms behind the feature.

Use a Prototype when: You have a validated concept but need to refine the user experience and design. Let's say your PoC confirmed the possibility of a new fitness app. Design a prototype to test different workout layouts and user interfaces.

Use an MVP when: You know what kind of features would go into the product and want to test them with real users. The MVP of a fitness app could be a basic version with features like workout tracking and progress monitoring.

Conclusion

PoCs, prototypes, and MVPs are necessary before you make a significant investment. By understanding their distinct purposes and choosing the right approach at the right time, you can increase your chances of developing a successful product.

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