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Why prototype?

© Torrens University

A prototype is a preliminary model of something.

It’s often a very rough version of a product that may see the light of day. User experience designers develop tons of prototypes before finally defining what the ideal product should be.

Fidelity Spectrum chart with LOW best for exploration and refinement and HIGH best for user testing

Prototyping allows you to test whether your ideas would work before having to build it. You can use it, feel it and get a real sense to see if the experience is coming together.

It’s also great to communicate the ideas internally. Think of architecture, for instance, a small model, or prototype, is much more effective in communicating to clients what the building will look like. The act of building a prototype also presents an opportunity to further develop ideas.

  • Low fidelity prototypes; these can be hand-drawn, made of cardboard and glued together. We can produce them fast and are great when you’re exploring multiple ideas.

  • High fidelity prototypes; When you have more confidence in the final product and the detail matters.

You shouldn’t feel like a prototype needs to be perfect, consider what level of fidelity or resemblance to the real thing your prototype needs to be.

With your prototype in hand, it’s time to validate

If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.
Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company, 1863 – 1947
© Torrens University
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