Product designers prototype and experiment frequently. It is an essential part of the design and development process that involves translating early ideas into tangible prototypes that we can test. The aim is to “build the right thing,” before “building the thing right.”
However, the prototyping or experimenting doesn’t have to be limited to what we do for work. In fact, bringing this approach to your everyday life has the magical effect of turning common challenges into moments of playful exploration. It’s not necessarily about finding the ultimate answer, but enjoying the opportunity to experiment, improve, and learn along the way. You can prototype or experiment on anything as long as you have the right mindset and get creative.
Here’s what happened to me this week with an energy balls recipe experiment.
One: Get Inspired
Inspiration can come from various situations, such as joy of exploration or even frustration of lack of correct tools. The former happened to me yesterday when I decided to try out making some energy balls — the perfect snack that has become popular these days.
The recipe required, almond, nut butter and cocoa powder that I did not have in my kitchen although I did have dates luckily. I was determined to try making this but didn’t want to take a special trip to the shop especially now we are in national lockdown 2.0 due to Covid-19. That’s when my prototyping and experimenting obsession kicks in.
Two: Start Out Low-fidelity/cost
An essential step while prototyping is identifying the simplest way to obtain the intended result — to achieve more with less. Can other powder replace grounded almond? Can I use something else to replace nut butter to achieve similar result?… In order to avoid making something less tasty and wasting food, I prepared small amount of ingredients that I thought might work: bananas and walnuts.
I grounded walnuts into powder, added in dates and bananas then blended them all together.
Three: Analyze the result
The good news: I got a sticky dough that looked like something described in the recipe.
The bad news: Once I made it into energy balls, they didn’t keep the form very well and appeared to be too moist in addition to the overpowering banana smell.
This was the perfect time for iteration: looking into different ingredients and ways to improve the smell and reduce moist.
Four: Iterate Until Satisfied
I tried different nuts that I had in my pantry: peanuts and pistachio. I also used olive oil and butter to replace nut butter. However, the result were not what I wanted it to be. After a few hours experimenting with ingredients that I could find, I finally satisfied with the version of sesame, walnuts, coconut oil and dates. Not only the taste was a fine balance between nutty and sweat, but also those balls stayed in perfect shape after being left in room temperature for hours. Furthermore, I could already thought of more variations for the snack!
This experience helped me further understand why I always enjoyed cooking in the first place. It also taught me that prototyping and experimenting can be everywhere in daily life.
Do you have similar experiences?