What is it
Developing an early version of a product to convey the look (form-appearance) and feel (function-behavior); can be static or dynamic in nature but is typically built quickly.
Why use it
- Directly evaluate user interaction with a product or design concept to shape future design directions.
- Assess whether or not requirements are being met.
- Take chances with ideas and explore “risky designs” with minimal investment.
When to use it
- When the initial requirements and user needs have been documented but not fully validated.
- When performance requirements are well established but the form feature definition is still immature.
How to do it
Identify a concept or idea.
Depending on the type of prototype (e.g., digital, hardware, paper), gather the necessary materials or resources. These should be materials that are easy to modify quickly, such as paperclips and cardboard.
Identify use cases or scenarios; focus on just a few tasks to start.
Begin building or coding the concept, including as much functionality as is necessary for your use cases.
Share the prototype with stakeholders, end users, and others to gather inputs on whether requirements are being met or need improvements.
Iterate until you have the first minimum viable product – then repeat as necessary.
- Encourages an experimentation mindset so you can test out ideas before implementing them
- Can be as lightweight or as complex as you need it to be
- This is a purposefully broad tool because you can take it in many different directions. People struggle with no/vague instructions.
- Prototype is often confused with MVP or “mini” versions of a full working something.