Rapid prototyping, which has been around since the 1980s, is the process of creating a scale model of your product using computer-aided design and manufacturing techniques. And because technology is more affordable and widely available today, the process is significantly faster and more accessible than it was even 40 years ago. Nowadays, even small businesses can afford 3D printing and other prototype-creation methods such as injection molding, casting, CNC milling, or turning.
If you have ever wondered whether rapid prototyping has a place in your organization and how it can boost your product development and manufacturing processes, please keep reading.
5 Ways Rapid Prototyping Can Boost Your Company
With an estimated 95% of new products failing within the first year of release, rapid prototyping provides a competitive advantage by lowering costs and increasing profits. Let’s take a closer look at how your company can benefit from this product development process.
Reduce Lead Times and Costs Associated With Product Development
Rapid prototyping allows you to significantly shorten the time it takes to go from concept to production with a new product. And, because you’re reducing development lead time, you’re also lowering development costs.
This also implies that you can create multiple prototypes throughout the design process. This allows you to see what is and isn’t working and adapt accordingly. It may be more effective for you and your designers to work from a physical model rather than a digitized plan or design.
The authentic feel of a prototype allows you to iron out issues quickly and efficiently, significantly reducing the time it takes to create a final product. In the end, the sooner you enter the market, the more likely you are to find a profitable niche before your competitors.
Increased Possibilities For Product Customization
The ability to tailor a product to a specific client or customer base significantly increases sales potential. Whether a client requires customization to match their own unique offerings or there is consumer demand for a similar secondary product with a few tweaks, customization can significantly increase bottom lines.
Suppose your product hasn’t yet hit the market. In that case, rapid prototyping eliminates the need for your designers and manufacturers to devote separate time to the customized sample while they’re still working on regular production. Instead, with rapid prototyping, these processes can all take place simultaneously.
When customization propositions arrive after the product has been released to the market, the development process usually interrupts the existing product’s production. On the other hand, rapid prototyping allows you to easily create models that show the changes without affecting the output of the regular product.
Develop Cost-Effective Models
When bringing a new product to market, it’s critical to have prototypes to show investors, employees, and potential customers long before the product is released.
If you can mass-produce your prototypes at a low cost, it won’t matter that you don’t have multiple designs. Instead, you can make several and distribute them to relevant stakeholders.
You can also make multiple versions of your prototype to demonstrate your ability to customize or personalize the product. This can pique the interest of investors and potential customers while also showing the potential of your product and business.
Make Use Of Relevant Customer Feedback
Customer feedback is a crucial component of any new product launch. Your product and business will fail if consumers are not interested or impressed. Therefore, you must maintain an open line of communication with your target market to ensure that you understand their thoughts and feelings about the product and that you can iterate accordingly.
This is another area where rapid prototypes can be highly beneficial to your company. For example, you can use your prototypes to run focus groups and feedback sessions, update them quickly and cheaply based on focus group feedback, and then bring the changed product back to the group.
This back and forth demonstrates to your target market that you genuinely value their feedback while validating your concept and providing you with an idea of how your product will perform in the market.
Increase Market Visibility
Essentially, the quicker you can get a product from concept to market, you will gain more significant market visibility with the help of your product. And the more products you do this with, the better your company’s reputation will be. As a result, you will gain greater market penetration faster, and your brand will expand at a faster rate.
Brands rarely become household names with small product runs and rarely achieve effective market penetration. Because the development process allows for refinement during production rather than after the fact, rapid prototyping improves product quality even in larger runs. In addition, rapid prototyping gives you the tools you need to get your product to market quickly and successfully.
Rapid prototyping is now a viable option for all small businesses. Because of advances in technology and lower costs, your company can quickly and efficiently create mock-ups or full-scale models of a new product. Now that you’re aware of the advantages, it’s up to you to decide how to incorporate this process, from budget and operations to the technology required to create your own rapid prototypes.
The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.
Nike.com uses infinite scrolling to load more products on its category pages. And because of that, Nike risks its loaded content not getting indexed.
For the sake of testing, I entered one of their category pages and scrolled down to choose a product triggered by scrolling. Then, I used the “site:” command to check if the URL is indexed in Google. And as you can see on a screenshot below, this URL is impossible to find on Google:
Of course, Google can still reach your products through sitemaps. However, finding your content in any other way than through links makes it harder for Googlebot to understand your site structure and dependencies between the pages.
To make it even more apparent to you, think about all the products that are visible only when you scroll for them on Nike.com. If there’s no link for bots to follow, they will see only 24 products on a given category page. Of course, for the sake of users, Nike can’t serve all of its products on one viewport. But still, there are better ways of optimizing infinite scrolling to be both comfortable for users and accessible for bots.
Unlike Nike, Douglas.de uses a more SEO-friendly way of serving its content on category pages.
They provide bots with page navigation based on <a href> links to enable crawling and indexing of the next paginated pages. As you can see in the source code below, there’s a link to the second page of pagination included:
Moreover, the paginated navigation may be even more user-friendly than infinite scrolling. The numbered list of category pages may be easier to follow and navigate, especially on large e-commerce websites. Just think how long the viewport would be on Douglas.de if they used infinite scrolling on the page below:
Let’s check if that’s the case here. Again, I used the “site:” command and typed the title of one of Otto.de’s product carousels:
As you can see, Google couldn’t find that product carousel in its index. And the fact that Google can’t see that element means that accessing additional products will be more complex. Also, if you prevent crawlers from reaching your product carousels, you’ll make it more difficult for them to understand the relationship between your pages.
To find out, check what the HTML version of the page looks like for bots by analyzing the cache version.
To check the cache version of Target.com’s page above, I typed “cache:https://www.target.com/p/9-39-…”, which is the URL address of the analyzed page. Also, I took a look at the text-only version of the page.
When scrolling, you’ll see that the links to related products can also be found in its cache. If you see them here, it means bots don’t struggle to find them, either.
However, keep in mind that the links to the exact products you can see in the cache may differ from the ones on the live version of the page. It’s normal for the products in the carousels to rotate, so you don’t need to worry about discrepancies in specific links.
But what exactly does Target.com do differently? They take advantage of dynamic rendering. They serve the initial HTML, and the links to products in the carousels as the static HTML bots can process.
However, you must remember that dynamic rendering adds an extra layer of complexity that may quickly get out of hand with a large website. I recently wrote an article about dynamic rendering that’s a must-read if you are considering this solution.
Also, the fact that crawlers can access the product carousels doesn’t guarantee these products will get indexed. However, it will significantly help them flow through the site structure and understand the dependencies between your pages.
It’s impossible to fully evaluate a website without a proper site crawl. But looking at its robots.txt file can already allow you to identify any critical content that’s blocked.
This disallow directive misuse may result in rendering problems on your entire website.
To check if it applies in this case, I used Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. This tool can help you navigate rendering issues by giving you insight into the rendered source code and the screenshot of a rendered page on mobile.
But let’s find out if those rendering problems affected the website’s indexing. I used the “site:” command to check if the main content (product description) of the analyzed page is indexed on Google. As you can see, no results were found:
The layout is essential for Google to understand the context of your page. If you’d like to know more about this crossroads of web technology and layout, I highly recommend looking into a new field of technical SEO called rendering SEO.
Lidl.de proves that a well-organized robots.txt file can help you control your website’s crawling. The crucial thing is to use the disallow directive consciously.
Having a large e-commerce website, you may easily lose track of all the added directives. Always include as many path fragments of a URL you want to block from crawling as possible. It will help you avoid blocking some crucial pages by mistake.
Will users get obsessed with finding that particular product via Walmart.com? They may, but they can also head to any other store selling this item instead.
To fix this problem, Walmart has two solutions:
Implementing dynamic rendering (prerendering) which is, in most cases, the easiest from an implementation standpoint.
IKEA proves that you can present your main content in a way that is accessible for bots and interactive for users.
When browsing IKEA.com’s product pages, their product descriptions are served behind clickable panels. When you click on them, they dynamically appear on the right-hand side of the viewport.
Take care of your indexing pipeline and check if:
Your content actually gets indexed on Google.
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