A prototype is an example, or a draft intended to explore the ideas gathered and ¨bring light¨ to the product development. Prototyping is essential while designing, for the reason that it is easier to evaluate a product or project in an early stage and adapt the necessary changes.
Although a prototype might be a very first idea, it helps to present to the rest of the stakeholders involved in the project, such as workmates, investors, or potential users the reasons behind the idea. In this phase, involving stakeholders in prototype sessions matters since all the needs and requirements need to be aligned from the very beginning. With a solid prototype, the outcomes derivate from the testing session will be more concrete and definite. However, it also depends on the budget and time allocation. Sometimes, grasp prototypes work to define the ¨how¨ and set the initial way for further progress.
There are different types of prototypes that follow a trajectory of development from low fidelity to high fidelity (Walker et al., 2002). Low fidelity prototypes are the ones that do not take so much time to develop and may include ¨sketches¨ or ¨paper prototypes¨. On the contrary, high-fidelity prototypes take a longer period of time as further details and features are incorporated. With the emergence of digital platforms such as websites, blogs, and portfolios, digital prototypes become essential to showcase the expected outcome.
Diving into the subject, we will draw attention to the several types of prototypes and their main characteristics:
Examples of wireframes
The importance of prototyping resides in challenging of assumptions and conveying the changes, refinements and further improvements increasing the likelihood of a more positive design. Additionally, prototyping is based in learning by doing, experimenting, and searching possible solutions towards the problems or incurrences may arise.
For further reading about prototyping, you can consult UsabilityNet. In addition, an interesting easy-to-use digital tool for prototyping is FIGMA. Figma supplies various sources and guidelines on how to use the platform and, moreover, it has a big community of designers and testers. Templates for prototyping can be easily found there and their webpage includes a guide on how to use FIGMA.
Task 5: Watch the following video and share your answers to the questions presented on the forum.
- Why is necessary to use sketching and prototyping?
- What are the main differences between Digital prototyping and Native prototyping?
- When is necessary to prototype before or after the testing phase? Why?
As the video presented, paper prototypes can approach other forms of prototyping such as wireframes. Even counting with few resources, a prototyping session can take place in many forms. Therefore, focusing on the process rather than on the result will help you to evaluate the essential characteristics of your prototype.
In the last phase of Design Thinking, we will test our prototype and which evaluation methodologies can be used to understand the ¨pain points¨ of our design.