Prototype vs MVP vs Proof of Concept— Differences and Similarities

prototype vs mvp vs poc min

When diving into the world of product design and development, there are a lot of terms being thrown around. Today we will focus on the three of them:

  • Prototype is a representation of an end-product for testing design ideas, getting feedback from users, and showing stakeholders and developers what the final product will be like.
  • MVP is a product that stakeholders use to find first users that would be willing to use the product. MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product, because it has all that’s needed to find first users.
  • Proof of Concept is anything that helps you measure the feasibility, viability, and desirability of a product to secure funding, gather resources, and make sure you want to invest in the right thing.

Key takeaways:

  • Prototype’s purpose is to test product’s UI and UX design with its intended users, get feedback, and achieve the best solution possible. MVP’s purpose is to find early adopters and Proof of Concept is there so you can check if it’s worth to build the product in the first place.
  • Prototype needs to be as functional as it’s needed to test the product before comitting the resources to making it. MVP needs to be fully functional and Proof of Concept (PoC) doesn’t need to be functional at all.
  • Prototype, MVP, and Proof of Concepts need to be developed with the focus on the user, they go through a series of iterations that are based on feedback and design validation.

Build fully interactive prototypes to test your concepts using UXPin’s powerful Merge technology. Get accurate feedback during the product design process to validate ideas and iterate faster at higher fidelity than traditional image-based design tools. Discover UXPin Merge.

Reach a new level of prototyping

Design with interactive components coming from your team’s design system.

What is a Prototype?

A prototype represents or simulates a product idea, allowing designers, stakeholders, and users to visualize and interact with its key features and functionalities. Prototypes help validate design concepts, gather feedback, and test usability during the early stages before investing significant time and resources into development.

There are various types of prototypes, ranging from low-fidelity sketches or wireframes to high-fidelity interactive replicas that closely resemble the final product. Designers can quickly iterate, refine, and improve their designs based on user insights, ensuring that the final product meets user needs and business goals.

How to build a prototype

UX designers or product designers are typically responsible for the prototyping process. They collaborate with other team members, such as UX researchers, developers, and stakeholders, to gather requirements, define the scope, and translate ideas into tangible prototypes.

Designers use various tools and methodologies to create interactive visual representations of their ideas and simulate user interactions.

What is an MVP?

An MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is a simplified version of a product that includes only its core features and functionalities aimed at addressing the primary needs of early users. An MVP aims to test and validate the product idea in the market with minimal resources and investment.

An MVP is a functional product, allowing the product team to gather feedback, measure user engagement, and collect valuable data to inform future iterations and enhancements.

An MVP aims to balance delivering value to users and validating the product’s viability while minimizing development costs and time-to-market.

How to build an MVP

Developers typically use a combination of tools and technologies to build an MVP, including programming languages, frameworks, and development platforms specific to the chosen tech stack. They may use foundational programming languages like HTML, CSS, and Javascript or frameworks like React, Angular, or Vue.

Engineering teams collaborate with designers, stakeholders, and other team members to define the MVP’s features, functionalities, and priorities. The development process involves:

  • Implementing core features
  • Integrating with necessary APIs or databases
  • Deploying the product to a testable environment

What is a Proof of Concept?

A proof of concept (PoC) is a small-scale demonstration or experiment that aims to verify the feasibility and potential of an idea. Companies typically use PoCs to test a product’s or technology’s technical or functional aspects before investing significant resources in software development.

A proof of concept focuses on validating key hypotheses or showcasing specific features or capabilities of an idea to stakeholders or investors. It serves as evidence that the concept is possible and has the potential to solve a problem or meet a need.

Unlike a fully functional product, a proof of concept may not be production-ready or designed to be deployed to target users. Instead, its purpose is to demonstrate the viability and value of the idea, paving the way for further development and investment.

How to build a proof of concept

The responsibility for building a PoC lies with a cross-functional team consisting of developers, engineers, designers, and subject matter experts. They collaborate to design and implement a simplified solution, focusing on the core features and functionalities that will validate the concept’s viability.

The tools and techniques organizations use to build a PoC vary due to the diverse nature of digital innovation. For example, an organization may use Python, Java, or C++ combined with various development frameworks. The organization may also incorporate data analysis tools, visualization software, or simulation platforms to run and analyze the PoC.

Comparing a PoC vs. Prototype vs. MVP

Key differences

Purpose and scope:

  • Prototype: Used to visualize and test design concepts, interactions, and user experience.
  • MVP: Developed to find product-market fit and refine the idea in a real-world context.
  • PoC: Created to demonstrate the feasibility and potential value of a product.

Level of functionality:

  • Prototype: Limited functionality that allows to test usability of a product.
  • MVP: Full functionality of features with avoiding scope creep.
  • PoC: No functionality necessary; the goal is to showcase the core concept.

Audience and timing:

  • Prototype: Targets internal teams, stakeholders, and potential users in the early design and development stages.
  • MVP: Intended for early adopters, potential customers, and investors to validate the product-market fit.
  • PoC: Aimed at stakeholders, investors, and potential partners to showcase the viability and potential of a concept.

Similarities and overlaps

Iterative approach:

User-centered design:

  • Teams use user-centered design principles to design prototypes, MVPs, and PoCs.
  • User feedback and insights play a crucial role in shaping the product design process.
  • Teams make iterations to improve the user experience and meet user needs and market demand.

Learning and validation:

  • Companies use prototypes, MVPs and PoCs to learn and validate a business idea or product concept.
  • They provide opportunities to gather feedback, test assumptions, and make informed decisions.
  • Organizations build prototypes to gain insights through user testing and validation to refine the product and make necessary improvements.

Example Case Study for Using a Prototype vs. MVP vs. PoC

Scenario: FinTech startup FinPin is working on a digital product for managing personal finances. The app aims to provide users with a seamless and intuitive experience for budgeting, expense tracking, and financial goal setting.


FinPin creates a prototype to validate the user interface and gather feedback from potential users and stakeholders during the concept and design phase. The team builds several variations during this process, including low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototypes.

The low-fidelity prototypes allow design teams to test and iterate quickly–first, with paper before moving onto digital wireframes using a design tool. FinPin’s design team uses these low-fidelity prototypes to create the structure, navigation, and information architecture.

Next, the team converts its low-fidelity wireframes to high-fidelity interactive prototypes. FinPin’s designers use Material UI to build interactive prototypes to save time by leveraging the design system’s vast component library and well-defined design language.

They use UXPin’s Merge technology to prototype and test using React components. This interactive prototyping approach allows the team to gather accurate data and insights to validate ideas and solve usability issues.

These prototypes include color, typography, UI components, and real content, allowing the team to test the designs with end-users and iterate on feedback. Designers optimize the user experience during this iterative process while enhancing the user interface’s business value.

Minimum viable product

After receiving positive feedback on the prototype, FinPin develops a minimum viable product for the mobile app. Instead of creating a mobile app, which is a costly process and time-consuming process, FinPin develops a mobile-friendly web app with the product’s core features.

The MVP includes essential features, including account linking, expense tracking, and basic budgeting capabilities. The goal is to create a functional web application to find first users and see what they appreciate about the app.

The web app also allows them to use tools like Google Analytics and Hotjar to track and analyze user behavior for future improvements. This data enables the team to gather valuable user insights, validate assumptions, and determine the product-market fit before investing further resources in additional features.

Proof of concept

FinPin aims to introduce innovative financial forecasting technology into the app. They build a proof of concept to demonstrate the technology’s feasibility and pitch their idea to investors to secure funding.

The PoC focuses on developing a small-scale, functional version of the forecasting algorithm and integrating it into the MVP. This integration with the MVP allows FinPin to test the accuracy and performance of the technology, evaluate any technical challenges or limitations, and showcase its potential value to potential investors or partners.

The outcomes of the PoC inform decisions on the scalability and viability of integrating the forecasting technology into the final product.

The example above demonstrates the three distinct scenarios where companies and startups use prototypes, MVPs, and PoCs. We can summarize this example as follows:

  • Prototype: design testing
  • MVP: beta testing
  • PoC: concept testing

Advanced Prototyping With UXPin Merge

Whether you’re building a minimum viable product or proof of concept, prototyping is essential to test and validate ideas before committing to the development process.

UXPin’s Merge technology allows designers to bring code components into the design process to enhance prototyping scope and gather meaningful feedback from user testing and stakeholders. These interactive prototypes allow users and stakeholders to interact with user interfaces like they would the final product, providing accurate insights to iterate and improve before the development process.

Create prototypes that drive data-driven decisions for better product outcomes and user experiences. Visit our Merge page for more details and how to request access.

Use a single source of truth for design and development. Discover Merge


by UXPin on 23rd August, 2023

UXPin is a web-based design collaboration tool. We’re pleased to share our knowledge here.

Still hungry for the design?

UXPin is a product design platform used by the best designers on the planet. Let your team easily design, collaborate, and present from low-fidelity wireframes to fully-interactive prototypes.

Start your free trial

These e-Books might interest you