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Prototyping Exercise

Ideas are worth nothing without action. Now is the time to bring the most innovative and effective ideas out of our heads and into the testing phase. Prototyping helps to further explore the viability of ideas and allows for a critical review of what works and what doesn’t work as we thought it would.
© Torrens University

Ideas are worth nothing without action.

Testing Phase

Now is the time to bring the most innovative and effective ideas out of our heads and into the testing phase. Prototyping helps to further explore the viability of ideas and allows for a critical review of what works and what doesn’t work as we thought it would.

Montage of problems

Prototype your Idea

Choose one idea from your ideation step. It’s okay if the idea isn’t fully fleshed out yet, as prototyping will help to fill in the gaps. Remember, at this stage it’s more about the process than the idea.

Storyboarding

Think of storyboarding like creating a comic strip. It should tell the story of how your idea would happen in real life.

App User Journey

If your idea is for an app, draw the journey of someone using that app. Consider stages that include:

  • how they might hear about it
  • how they might download it
  • what would appear on their screen
  • what buttons would pop up
  • what they would click on
  • what images would appear, etc.

Hands holding 3D printed and paper models

Product User Journey

If your idea is for a product, draw the journey of someone using that product. Consider:

  • how someone would buy it
  • how they would use it
  • how they would hold it
  • where they would take it
  • what would happen with it after they’ve used it.

Cardboard model chair and hand sketching chair design

Draw 8 squares and sketch out the sequence of how your idea would work in real life. To help you, here are three examples below:

Storyboard 1

Storyboard 1 image showing 7 panels for mobile app design

Frame 1 shows the problem within the context of a realistic situation.

Frame 3 shows the on-screen layout drawn, and words that explain the narrative of each stage appear at the bottom of the frame.

Frame 7, the final frame, shows a view of the app on screen and the human experience with the problem solved.

Storyboard 2

Storyboard 2 showing travel app sketches

This storyboard starts with the landing screen of a website. However, starting with the problem in ‘context’ and drawing the steps that led users to the website will be better for prototyping the idea.

Your storyboards need not be neat and fancy, you can scribble the idea out on paper!

Image description: Prototype storyboard for a new e-bus service Source: http://nickfassler.com/2010/12/design-thinking-for-mobility-in-ann-arbor/

Storyboard 3

fashion app sketches with text in first person

This storyboard uses the first person to explore how an individual would experience this idea.

Image description: Frames from storyboard prototype of Amazon’s Echo Look, virtual personal stylist. Source: https://medium.com/@muppetaphrodite/half-the-blank-page-storyboarding-for-product-design-8f92d47fc588

Tip: You don’t need to be an Artist.

Let’s not make this all about ourselves here. This is about exploring ideas so we can ensure they work, not about impressing people with our artistic ability.

Woman paints portrait in studio

Learn From Mistakes

Inevitably, you will find holes in your ideas. Explore these gaps with curiosity. Mistakes give us the opportunity to improve. Learn to love and celebrate them. Keep in mind also, not all ideas are created equal, sometimes we have to recognise what ideas are worth pursuing and which ones we need to cut.

Two light bulbs - one illuminated, one smashed

Share Your Ideas

Sometimes, it can be difficult to put something conjured up by your brain out in the wild, open for all types of criticism. But gaining other perspectives and insights will only strengthen your ideas! Put them out there and rather than being fearful of what others might think, become excited about the prospect of your idea becoming even more awesome.

3 people look at notes on transparent screen

Prototyping takes time for an idea to become innovative; it needs space and the time to grow. You may find that after the first prototype, you will need to make some adjustments and test the idea again. It’s also beneficial to prototype ideas in various ways. First you might storyboard an idea and, once the kinks are ironed out, move onto role-playing or 3D printing to take the idea to a new level.

Refine your Design

After each prototype, reviewing the process is imperative to further build upon the idea. So, during this exploration, consider what worked, what didn’t work, what needs more research, what was unexpected and how can we improve.

When you have done this, you will be ready to refine and execute your solution!

Additional Resources

Knapp, J. (2018, July 9). The 8 Steps To Creating A Great Storyboard. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/1672917/the-8-steps-to-creating-a-great-storyboard

Rapid Prototyping 1 of 3: Sketching & Paper Prototyping. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/JMjozqJS44M.

Rapid Prototyping Design Kit. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.designkit.org/methods/26

VIDEO Workshop Part Four: Prototyping. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rbjej4A6oRk

If a picture is worth 1000 words, a prototype is worth 1000 meetings.
Tom & David Kelley, IDEO
© Torrens University
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