When you need feedback on an idea, there are a few different paths you might go down.
I propose that some ways will help you collect more feedback in shorter amounts of time due to an idea called degrees of interaction. The three degrees are:
3. Time (responsiveness)
The first, most obvious way to get feedback is to verbally describe the idea to someone. It’s a low effort option and it might elicit valuable feedback depending on how well you can explain the idea. The problem is that this is a one degree interaction between your idea and the world. All you are putting forth are words without any visuals or responsiveness over time.
Related, some people might write their ideas. This is another one degree interaction. Though, adding photos and diagrams to a piece would increase the interactionality, but not quite to a two.
To get into two degree land, you would need something like a power point, where you are showing visuals and sharing words at the same time. You could accomplish the same goal by drawing pictures, then recording your voice as you talk over the various images. An explainer video on a landing page is a great two degree example.
Yet, even with a video, there is a static-ness to it. Over time the video doesn’t change no matter what the user feedback is.
To get to three degree interaction, you would need something alive that changes over time. The easiest way to do this is though a facilitated experience where you are delivering a product or service based on user input. A wizard of oz prototype is a good example of a three degree interaction. You could also get a three degree interaction by sophisticated role play where users join you in an imaginary world and give feedback in real time as you simulate your idea.
I think our goal should be to get to the highest degree with the least amount of effort. Not because it’s fun to show off bad products, but because it’s the fastest way to get the valuable feedback necessary to launch good products.
The calculation ends up being a maximization question of: degrees/time. Get to the highest degree possible in the least amount of time and you will get feedback quickly.
Hopefully this framework provides a way to think about which prototypes might be worth pursuing in the early stages of a project. Build fast. Learn fast.