The Easy Guide to Prototyping Prototyping Types and Process

Low-fidelity prototypes are ideal if you want to rapidly test broad concepts. They’re quick, cheap, and highly collaborative; they don’t require advanced design skills, so different people from different teams can easily be involved. High-fidelity prototypes are prototypes that look and operate closer to the finished product.

The stages of professional prototyping

Paper prototype sketching templates can help you speed up your process. However, you don’t need them and simple sketches on blank sheets of paper will work just as well. You can create rough “animations” by sliding pieces of paper to give users a more realistic idea of how the interface will work. Discover how prototyping can help you access your users to fine-tune ideal products.

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While generally easy to create, sometimes you might spend a bit of time to make a paper prototype. You might get emotionally attached as a result and become unable to objectively evaluate its merits. Also, while it’s fairly easy to make small changes, sometimes larger, more structural changes are tricky because they can require completely recreating whole sections of the prototype. By breaking down the elements of your product into smaller standalone units, you can drastically change how it can be prototyped and therefore impact how much it’s going to cost. Analyze the key features of your product and ask if they can operate independent of other systems. One must remember to keep up some of the creative resources for further application and not to use them up for one, usually, the very first, prototype.

The stages of professional prototyping

Planning for and knowing when and how to test is the real key to saving money during this phase. Many companies “test to test” and this is where a lot of money is wasted. Whether its a quality, life or a UX test, understanding the test goal is paramount. To do it right, you need a process to build, test, and iterate with multiple prototypes. To help you perfect your design and save on costs, we’ve put together a list of five key prototyping phases, along with a few of the manufacturing processes best suited for each .

#2: Focus on key features

Prototyping is an effective method to validate ideas, test feasibility, secure buy-in, and create alignment. There are different prototyping methods that are suitable for different needs. However, once identified correctly, prototyping can help save time and resources while creating value early in product discovery. For example, when companies wanted to try virtual reality before people knew about VR, they couldn’t explain it to people with wireframes and sketches and get their feedback. Instead, they had to develop a high-fidelity user prototype with the goal of testing whether the user would like the product. In the product discovery phase, it’s plausible that the product team has numerous compelling ideas.

She also has an MSc in Psychology from the University of Westminster. What’s special about design thinking is that it advocates a solution-based approach to problem-solving. Rather than fixating on obstacles and limitations, it encourages you to experiment, iterate, and think outside the box. In some cases, the material used for the final product is not available so the prototype is made up of identical material. The difference in the material may change the appearance and finishing of the final product as compared to the prototype. Prototyping is a key activity we undertake in our practice to ensure that the product we develop meets the needs of the audience.

How are prototypes made?

Done right, a “Looks Like” prototype is a great way to get your ideas across and save a lot of money on early looks-like models. With the looks-like, the main goal is to illustrate the overall size, shape, and key UX aspects. The best way to save money in this early phase, when the product design is immature, is to utilize digital sketching tools and low-fidelity non-working prototypes to gauge user reactions.

The stages of professional prototyping

You’ll need to know how to explain to your users the way your prototype works, as well as answer the many questions they will ask you. Paper prototypes are less helpful to test commonly used user interface patterns. That’s because users are likely to already know how prototype a website the user interface works. In such cases, you should skip the paper prototype and move on to a higher-fidelity prototype instead. Some designers split high-fidelity prototyping into “mid-fidelity” and “high-fidelity” (where they’re far closer to the final version).

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You’ll help inform the type of content we create and get access to exclusive meetups, social accreditation, and swag. Take part in one of our FREE live online UX design events with industry experts, and read up on UX graduate Alice’s career change from corporate banking. If you’d like to learn how to prototype with Adobe XD, check out this recording of a recent event we held to walk through this process. Individualized mentorship Nurture your inner tech pro with personalized guidance from not one, but two industry experts. They’ll provide feedback, support, and advice as you build your new career. Learn online, not alone Our career-change programs are designed to take you from beginner to pro in your tech career—with personalized support every step of the way.

  • A prototype is a preliminary model of something from which later iterations are developed or copied.
  • Virtual or augmented reality tools can be used for some designs, allowing users to ‘experience’ a design as if in the physical world.
  • Use Lego prototypes to mimic the actual size of a proposed physical product.
  • The main leader is the product manager, who oversees all product tasks related to ideation, research, development, and product launch.
  • She spent over a decade in tech startups, immersed in the world of UX and design thinking.
  • The difference in the material may change the appearance and finishing of the final product as compared to the prototype.

Generally, hi-fi prototypes are more expensive because they take more time and work to develop. They allow designers to test very specific aspects of their design choices like animated transitions, stages of the user’s journey and micro-interactions. High-fidelity or hi-fi prototypes are essentially functional prototypes.

The Ultimate Guide to Prototyping

They can be created using special wireframing software, or even with a presentation tool like PowerPoint or Keynote. No matter how thorough your UX research is, many people find it difficult to truly conceptualize a product until they have it in front of them. Prototypes allow you to iterate, refine, rework, and make improvements until you have a market-ready product. Can’t decide where a certain button should go on your app home screen? Test a few versions in the form of prototypes and see which works best.

The stages of professional prototyping

It involves taking the smallest possible action to test out whether a particular path is right for you. You can do this on a piece of paper or a diagramming tool like Creately which provides complete libraries for wireframes, UI mockups, flowcharts, mind maps etc. Mind Map for Website Design Customer journey maps can help you understand how the customers would interact with your product across various touchpoints. Like with storyboards, customer journey maps will help you develop an empathetic understanding of the user.

The process that simplifies product development

And since you get feedback from actual end users, you are able to validate what will work and what will not. User testing involving high-fi prototypes will allow the evaluators to gather information with a high level of validity and applicability. The closer the prototype is to the finished product, the more confidence the design team will have in how people will respond to, interact with, and perceive the design. Depending on your product, the production of low-fi prototypes may not be appropriate for your intended users. Compared to low-fidelity prototypes, high-fidelity ones are more interactive and highly functional. They represent something that is closer to the real product with most of the design elements developed.