Tuomas Jomppanen

Prototyping cost for Web Application is approaching zero

31 Dec 2014

Technology is becoming trivial. Manufacturing consumer goods becomes easier and easier. Building software is easy and building web products is even easier than ever, thanks to the awesome open source community. Pretty much any modern company is a software company. Software is eating the world.

What if you write a software that nobody finds useful? Thats where you make a quick prototype. You give the prototype into the hands of your customer. Watch how they interact with it. Thats how you validate your assumptions. The prototype is a set of fine-tuned experiments about your product idea.

The key to getting evidence that you can trust is to fool your users to think that they are using a real product. To accomplish this illusion, you need to provide good user experience. A great example of fast and cheap product idea validation is the story of how Buffer started and how they got paying customers in 7 weeks.

My dad uses a OpenOffice spreadsheet template to create and print invoices. Using a spreadsheet application feels bit too much for such a small task, so I built a super-simple web app for creating invoices on the web. I launched it as a prototype. Slowly evolving into a working product that actually provides value to the users. Since I wasn’t sure my dad actually switches from spreadsheet invoices to my application, I decided to keep my running costs as low as possible.

I originally launched my app as Tinybill.co but I switched to Tinyinvoice.net. It’s better domain because you already know what is it about when you’re typing the address on the browser.

Here is my minimal costs for Tinyinvoice web application:

My monthly expenses for Tinyinvoice.net are about three dollars per month. If you are a person who runs on inspiration, eventually you have multiple applications. With this kind of minimal cost structure approach, running 10 prototypes on the web does not bankrupt you.

Start prototyping, there is one excuse less to worry.