Idea Validation: Product


Create a fake artifact as a proxy for a real product

Illustration of Pinocchio
Run a Pinocchio play

Difficulty: Intermediate

Evidence strength

Relevant metrics: Customer feedback

Validates: Feasibility

How: Create a non-functional version of your product and use your imagination to pretend it's functional to test if, how, and when you would use it.

Why: A Pinocchio prototype can help test the physical form factor of a product. As it is in fact a dumb prototype, it works best to convince yourself and your team, not others, that your idea is on the right track.

This experiment is part of the Validation Patterns printed card deck

A collection of 60 product experiments that will validate your idea in a matter of days, not months. They are regularly used by product builders at companies like Google, Facebook, Dropbox, and Amazon.

Get your deck!

Before the experiment

The first thing to do when planning any kind of test or experiment, is to figure out what you want to test. To make critical assumptions explicit, fill out an experiment sheet as you prepare your test. We created a sample sheet for you to get started. Download the Experiment Sheet.

Simulate real-life situations

A Pinocchio prototype is best suited to test in contexts in which feasibility features such as size, shape, weight, and portability are crucial for product success. Upon successful validation, experimentation should move into more sophisticated experiements testing the actual interaction with the product.

Origin of experiment

This pretotyping technique was inspired by the creation of the original Palm Pilot prototype cut out in wood by Jeff Hawkins. It is named by the wood puppet Pinocchio who, after being visited by the Blue Fairy, becomes a real boy.

After the experiment

To make sure you move forward, it is a good idea to systematically record your the insights you learned and what actions or decisions follow. We created a sample Learning Sheet, that will help you capture insights in the process of turning your product ideas successful. Download the Learning Sheet.


Palm Pilot

Jeff Hawkins created a wood model of the Palm Pilot by taking a piece of wood, plastic, and a chopstick to give himself a sense of what the product would be like.

Source: Pretotyping: Techniques for Building the Right Product

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