Try Before You Buy:

The Power in Prototypes

by Bethany Joy



As Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, once said, prototypes allow designers to think in a tangible way and fail quickly and cheaply, saving us time and resources. Let’s explore four essential guidelines for effective prototyping and learn how we can apply them to turn our dreams into reality. This is a part of the series I have been podcasting on design thinking! We started with empathy, defined problems, ideated solutions, and now it’s time to prototype! This isn’t just for designers we all can learn how to use this method to get our ideas from our brains to the real world.


Like Nike Says: Just Do It

Are you someone who tends to get caught up in planning and hesitates to take action? Trust me, I’ve been there too. Many of us spend hours fantasizing about our ideas without actually testing them. However, an idea is just a fantasy until it has been tested. So, take that leap of faith and create a prototype of what you want to achieve.

For example, if you’re considering moving to a new city, don’t just daydream about it. Visit the city, live there for a couple of weeks, and experience the daily life. Explore the neighborhoods where you would potentially live. This hands-on approach will give you a more realistic understanding of whether the idea aligns with your expectations.



Just Keep Swimming

Be like Dori in Finding Nemo and just keep swimming!  Prototyping is all about speed and avoiding emotional attachment to ideas that might not work. We often fall victim to the sunk cost fallacy, feeling that all the time, energy, and resources we’ve invested will go to waste if we abandon an idea. However, continuing down an unfruitful path will only waste more of your precious time and resources.

Let go of ideas that don’t resonate and embrace failure as an opportunity for learning. I’ve had my fair share of hobbies and ventures that didn’t work out. From collecting random exercise equipment to fantasizing about becoming a marathon runner, I realized that my true passion lay elsewhere and I am ok with enjoying walks lol. It’s okay to let go and focus on what genuinely works for you instead of forcing a process to fit your goal. Processes can change keep the goal the same.


Keep the Main Thing The Main Thing

When creating prototypes, it’s essential to have a central testing issue in mind. While you remain focused on your ultimate goal, don’t lose sight of other valuable lessons that might emerge along the way.

For instance, when trying out a new exercise routine for the umpteenth time, it’s easy to get caught up in finding the perfect shoes, leggings, or gym membership. However, remember your primary goal and the problem you’re solving. Stay focused on the essential aspects and avoid distractions that might take you off course.



Prototyping is a powerful tool that allows us to turn our ideas into reality. By following these guidelines, you can harness the potential of prototyping to iterate and refine your concepts. Remember that failure is not the end but an opportunity for growth and learning. Embrace the journey, and don’t be afraid to test, refine, and test again. Your dreams are within reach!

Thank you for reading. To stay connected, visit or email Join Seen & Celebrated, our weekly newsletter, to support local creative women and businesses in Maryland and access the newsletter archive. If you need portraits, design work, or business support, I’m here for you. Reach out to me, Bethany Joy, for your unique needs.





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Resources: – Chu, Melissa. “Announcing Your Goals Makes You Less Likely to Achieve Them.” [Link](
– “Sunk Cost Fallacy.” [Link](


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