Prototyping is an effective way to quickly communicate your ideas with others, solicit feedback, and learn through making and sharing your ideas. Prototypes can be used at different stages of your design and development process. In the early stages, try rough and low fidelity prototypes to test a number of different ideas. Don’t be bogged down with details and don’t try to make them look good. The purpose of these prototypes is to test a number of different ideas to find out whether they have the potential to be taken forward or not. Paper prototypes are good examples of rough and quick prototypes.
In the next phase when your ideas are more refined you can spend a little more time on details and the look and feel of the prototype. These prototypes focus more on the interaction points between a user and a product, and on creating the user experience; they help to refine the details and interaction patterns.
In the final phases of the design and development process, high fidelity prototypes come in handy. Their look, feel, and function more closely reflect the final product. These prototypes are often presented in a final round of usability testing.
- There are several digital tools that help designers create interactive prototypes, many of which are available online. For example, InVision is a prototyping tool that is easy to learn and use.
- If you are designing a product, you can use 3D printing to build high fidelity prototypes.
- If you are working on a digital product, such as a website or an application, try publishing a beta version to get user feedback and fix the technical issues.
- If you are designing a service or a system, try roleplaying sessions to test your proposed solution.