What Is the Purpose of Prototyping?
The goal of a product creator is to ensure that their product satisfies the user’s needs. At the beginning of the design process, product teams form ideas that revolve around solving user’s problems. Sometimes, product teams skip right into developing a product without doing adequate user testing. When this happens, a waterfall design process is often followed, and all significant resources go into developing the actual product.
Following this process, designers sometimes use the “ship early” strategy where they release a product prior to user testing and validate it with real users in the market. Sadly, shortly after product release, many teams realize that their designs have no traction with real users. But how do you ensure that your team builds a product that people actually want? By prototyping your ideas. Prototyping allows product teams to explore and validate ideas before investing too many resources in building an actual product.
To minimize the risk of product failure, many product design teams move away from the waterfall process to Lean UX methodology. Lean UX design is a design mindset that stresses the importance of building a prototype with minimum viable functionality and validating it with your target audience through testing. By following Lean UX, product teams measure the success of their ideas by comparing real outcomes against expected outcomes.
What Are the Different Types of Prototyping?
There are various types of prototyping in design, including sketching, paper prototypes, low-fidelity wireframes, and interactive and HTML prototypes. The right prototyping to use depends on factors like what problems you’re trying to solve and the resources available to you.
Depending on the maturity of an idea, prototypes might have different fidelity. They range from hand-drawn paper prototypes that resemble basic objects of user interfaces to pixel-perfect layouts created in prototyping tools that look and function almost like a finished product. Low-fidelity prototypes are more suitable for the early stages of the product development process (when you need to experiment and try various approaches) while high-fidelity prototypes are more suitable for the later stages when you have a solid understanding of what you want to build.
But no matter what fidelity your prototypes have, they allow you to understand the problem space better and propose your solution to other team members and stakeholders. People can understand a proposed UI design concept better when they can interact with it and see how it works. Browse our collection of prototyping-related articles where you can regularly learn tips, tricks and best practices for developing prototypes.
Who Should Prototype?
From business professionals and developers to designers and those in UX/UI and beyond, all have something to gain from prototyping. Considering how many prototyping tools are available today, everyone can and should prototype. Prototyping saves you time and money, and most importantly, helps you build a better product for your users.
Browse our assortment of prototyping related articles where you can regularly learn how to create a product that is right for your company.