Don’t you just love prototyping? This article covers some basics about our beloved prototype, what it is and why it is great.
Prototyping is an important part of the design process and user experience design. By prototyping we can test new ideas quickly and see if it works or improve existing functions.
Building and testing is crucial in the ux design process and is high valued over thinking and meeting. With prototypes we can test our assumptions and create better human-centered design solutions.
Benefits of Prototyping:
- Save time, money and resources
- Test assumptions and ideas
- Better collaboration & communication
Save time, money and resources
New ideas and innovation always includes a risk of failure. With prototyping you can quickly see what works and don’t work. Prototyping helps to show what the end user wants early in the design process and does not require expensive software to do so.
Test assumptions and ideas
Prototyping gives us tools for testing and exploring the idea, validate and make refinements and changes in the right direction for the product. The assumptions from the research and ideation phase need to be prototyped and tested and then you will get facts
If you prototype and test those prototypes, your ideas, assumptions can be revealed and insight uncovered about your users. You can then use these insights and improve the product or create new solutions.
Better collaboration & communication
With a prototype it’s easy to communicate and share ideas within the design team, to stakeholders. Prototyping is also a perfect tool to communicate with the user and discover their needs, when they see a visualization it’s easier to understand and integrate with the solutions.
Purpose of Prototyping:
- Explore problems, ideas and opportunities
- Learn and understand the dynamics of the problem, product or system by engaging with them and see what makes them work or fail
- Engage with end users by testning or with stakeholders, reveal deeper insights and valuable experiences, to inform design decisions going forward
- Sell new ideas, motivate internal and external stakeholders or inspire for new ways of thinking
Two types: Lo-fi & Hi-fi prototypes
Prototypes are divided into to types, depending on where you are at in the design process or what the purpose of the prototyping is you can go with either lo-fi or hi-fi.
Be playful and start with paper prototyping early in the process. Lo-fi prototypes are often paper-based with a range of hand-drawn mockups to printouts, it can be quick and rough sketches. Lo-fi prototypes are helpful in an early visualization and explore alternative design solutions. Using paper and pen also let boundaries go and people are more comfortable suggesting solutions.
Sketches and storyboards are also prototypes, a prototype can just be a part of the product and not full product.
In a later stage hi-fi prototypes are better to use, these are more detailed and fully formed. These are computer-based and allow realistic user interactions. Hi-fi prototypes should give the user a true representation of the product. Hi-fi prototypes are assumed to be more effective in collecting true user performance and demonstrating the actual product to clients.
Some final words
Prototyping quickly and frequently is the best way to test assumptions, learn about users and improve ideas. Prototyping helps to create rather than think. By prototyping and testing you can understand the human needs that are essential for the product.
How much love do you put into prototyping? As a freelance UX & UI designer prototyping is one of my favorite things to do. Read more about me and my projects here
Thanks for reading!