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How to Prototype

Here are some ways to prototype your product or solution: Role Play your Design. This involves acting out a user experience related to how someone might use a product/service or how they might flow through a space. In Interior Design, for example, it’s common to map out the floor plan of a restaurant with chalk on the ground and then act out the role of each person in the space to explore how it functions.
Here are some ways to prototype your product or solution.
Montage of young builder, sketches, 3D printer and 3D modeling software

Role Play your Design

This involves acting out a user experience related to how someone might use a product/service or how they might flow through a space. In Interior Design, for example, it’s common to map out the floor plan of a restaurant with chalk on the ground and then act out the role of each person in the space to explore how it functions. This is especially important to ensure there are no nasty pinch-points in the service areas and kitchen for a safe and efficient work environment. It can also help to see how customers might enter a space, sit down and walk to the bathroom or where the point of sale might best be placed.
A floor-plan on a piece of paper is great, but exploring how humans will react in the space is invaluable as it’s always different to what you might expect and provides a great insight into how you can improve.

Storyboard your Design

You might relate this to film and video creation, where a comic-book-like sequential drawing tells a story. Storyboarding is also specifically handy with exploring customer journeys and product uses. This is like the Google process mentioned earlier, but it’s not just limited to UX (User Experience) design.
Design Lead for Microsoft, Cheryl Platz, regularly uses storyboarding to ‘hash out’ her ideas. While working on the Windows Automotive platform she states that ‘dividing the story into discrete beats often forced the team to work on the difficult context switches much earlier, where they were much less risky’.

3D Print your Design

The ever-advancing realm of 3D printing plays an important role in the design process for many industries. Architects, interior designers, industrial designers, engineers, product designers and even home hobbyist’s benefit from exploring through 3D printing. Ford uses it to save millions of dollars and months of lead time each year to prototype components for their new car designs. By 3D printing a gear stick for their new model GT, they could determine whether the complex and sleek design was worth stepping up into the full-scale manufacturing.

CAD Modelling

CAD stands for Computer Aided Design. This is where computer programs such as Archicad, Revit, SketchUp and Photoshop are used to model a structure, interior or product. Architects use CAD to build spaces in 3D and explore their aesthetics, flow and function by walking through it like a video game. Lighting engineers use it to test how much lighting is required to achieve certain tasks safely and comfortably, like working in an office space or dining in a restaurant. Acoustic experts use it to explore how sound is bounced, increased or softened within a space depending on its contents.
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