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Prototyping/Anga Whakamua

Protoyping is an important part of the process as it starts to make our ideas real. Watch Jeremy Suisited to learn more.
Kia ora everyone. I’m Jeremy from the Design Factory, and I’m here to talk about prototyping. Now, in your design journey so far, you will have just gone through the ideation stage, come up with lots of ideas, and started to assist them, trying to work out which idea will be the best at solving your complex problem. So what you have to do now is build something so you can test that idea. And prototyping is a quick, fast, and cheap way to test these ideas without investing lots of time or capital into them.
So prototyping, if you’re interested, comes from a Greek word which means the first type or your first impression, and when we prototype, we’re literally trying to work out three things. We want to work out, how can we build something that solves the problem. So it’s actually usable, so your end user can test it. How can we build something that’s viable, so it’s a solution that you or your organisation can actually deliver. And thirdly, and I think maybe most importantly, how can we create something that’s lovable? So the best prototypes have those three things. They’re usable, they’re viable, and they’re lovable. How do we prototype? Honestly, it depends on what solution you’ve come up with.
Sometimes, if you’re creating a service idea, something which is going to be an experience people have, you can mock up a cafe in a room. You can put some chairs around and create an experience in a few minutes to start mocking this up. Perhaps instead you want to mock up what a waiting room could look like. You could do this with LEGO as a quick way to see how people would flow through. If you’re creating a product, some of the best ways you can prototype this is getting out some cardboard, some craft knives and getting going and actually building this.
And when you build it out of cardboard it’s very quick to put it in people’s hands, see how they play with it, and you’re able to make some quick adjustments on the fly. A lot of prototypes today are also in the digital space. And I want to encourage you, if you get scared by anything digital, you don’t need to be able to code to do digital prototyping. For example, you can build a first impression of a website using PowerPoint. You could even draw it on some paper if you want. Put buttons on there and see how people will click. And also there’s many apps you can download which lets you turn your paper drawings into quick, testable apps.
So some of the reasons that we prototype as well, the why behind it, we say in design thinking if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a prototype is worth a thousand pictures. When you build something, it shows everyone in your group you’ve got total clarity on what your solution is. Also, when you build something, it means you can get it in people’s hands to play with. This isn’t about building something to present or to show, it’s about building something people can use. And like I said before, it’s cheap, it’s fast, and it’s easy to iterate. You quickly learn, oh that’s step of my solution doesn’t quite work, or this needs to be a little bit smaller.
And then suddenly you can make those changes in a matter of minutes and test it again. So that’s a nutshell view on what prototyping is. The way to learn it is by doing it. Your first prototype will always be your worst one and that’s OK. Have some fun, whether you’re going to be getting the craft knife out or getting into PowerPoint or doing some drawings on paper, and build something that you can really get your users to engage with. [NON-ENGLISH]

What is Prototyping

A prototype is a way of showing our ideas in a tangible way very early on. Prototype as a word comes from the Greek prototypos which means “first impression”.

Anga Whakamua means to build the way forward – we continue to understand the value to the those we are serving and we create protoypes through iterative improvments. Anga Whakamua also includes the user testing part of the process (and prototyping doesn’t get done without user testing anyway).

During the prototyping phase we start to make our potential solutions real so that we can get feedback from the users close to the challenge.

It is important to note that initial prototypes of ideas are quickly built and are inexpensive. This is known as low fidelity prototyping where the purpose is to learn and not to sell ideas. As we gather feedback they slowly change and refine into higher fidelity prototypes OR the idea may stop being investigated completely as we find they may not achieve what we first thought.

Curedale (2016) page 445 lists the benefits of the Prototyping stage.

  1. Prototyping helps to detect and fix early problems
  2. They can be built fast, and cheaply
  3. Prototyping enables the user to build, observe, and learn quickly
  4. Prototyping enhances collaboration within a team and enables everyone to visualise the same idea
  5. Prototypes allow feedback from users quickly
  6. Prototypes are able to be iterated easily

These benefits help us to understand the “why” behind prototyping. A representation of our idea helps us to explain our prototype to people. It helps us to ask questions and develop solutions simultaneously. It helps us invite honest feedback from our stakeholders as they see something that is quick and fast rather than refined and finished.

The next activity will look at some types of prototypes and we can see what types of prototypes suit our ideas.

Curedale, R. (2016). Design thinking: process & methods (4th edition). Los Angeles, CA: Design Community College.


Watch the video of Jeremy explaining Prototyping and reflect on the following questions.

What are the main benefits of prototyping?
What do you think are the potential challenges?

Post a comment in the section below.

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