Rapid Prototyping with WordPress

Malcolm Peralty
August 17, 2020

If you’ve been toying around with an idea for some time but have been hesitant to pull the trigger, WordPress can provide the foundation you need to establish proof of concept. Prior to investing large amounts of capital into a project, having a means to explore the potential pitfalls and possibilities of an idea can help dictate efficient resource allocation in the competitive business landscape.

WordPress is a great platform to create and test functional prototypes of your latest startup idea. After establishing proof of concept, you will need to decide if you want to continue using WordPress in the long run or would prefer to shift to a custom solution. Here are a few reasons that you might consider using WordPress when prototyping your next venture idea.

Time Savings

Setting up a server for WordPress, installing the content management system and sourcing and installing various plugins and themes can be fairly quick, sometimes taking less than an hour to build a simple website. When it comes to easily adding features, there are few open source tools that have as many free or cheap plugins and themes as WordPress. These plugins and themes cover a wide range of needs, and many have more than half a decade of maturity baked into their codebase.

Now consider how long it would take even the most competent developer to custom code a registration system, a login system, a tool to add pages to a website and a media library. Those are all features in the WordPress core, without utilizing any plugins. You are able to build your prototype on the efforts of thousands that have contributed to the project for nearly twenty years.

Once your MVP is complete with WordPress, you can then customize it to meet your needs, if you choose to do so.

Money Savings

You might be asking yourself, “wouldn’t developing something twice cost more money?” As an innovator and developer with several years of experience, that has not been the case.

No matter the project, a great deal of learning can be applied to the future versions of your project. With that new efficiency, a subsequent build can be completed at a much faster pace, either by building on top of what already exists by extending WordPress or through redevelopment, using WordPress as a design and feature template to refer back to.

WordPress’s plugin and theme library provides hundreds or even thousands of hours of free or inexpensive development shortcuts to test ideas and solutions. While time and money are linked when it comes to design and development, there are potential financial benefits of having first mover advantage in the market and using early profits to fund continued development.

Sample Scenario

Let’s say you want to build a plant based diet recipe search engine showing off your own recipes with photos you’ve taken. You want people to be able to filter what they are searching for based on various criteria. Your end goal is to get them to pay to subscribe to your six part digital training course focused on healthy eating. You are excited about your project idea, but you are also concerned that the project will take too much time and money to confirm that the market and potential for profit exists.

Here are a few steps you could take to quickly get your site up and running:

For less than $500 in software costs (and optionally maybe a few thousand for professional design and implementation), you’ll have the basis of something you can use to create your recipes, custom search filters, a course with multiple modules and quizzes, and the ability to accept payment. Even more importantly, you’ll be able to test your market strategy and set yourself up to begin working towards profitability.

You can then reinvest your profits into expanding WordPress, or if you decide down the road that you need a piece of custom software to meet all of your needs, you can export the content from your WordPress powered site, use any of the graphical elements that have been created, and have developers use the WordPress site as a tool to guide feature parity.

Conclusion

I have seen far too many businesses go down the road of completely custom software development without any real data to back up their plans or goals. They assume that the features they want are the ones that will bring in the most revenue. Yet, when they go to market, they find out that their assumptions were wrong.

Being able to test assumptions in a lean way can dictate the difference between a successful venture and one that fails to capture any market share. Rapid prototyping is key to quickly establishing proof of concept, and using off-the-shelf options like WordPress can help.

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