Prototyping is a cost and time-saving option to bring ideas to life, present them to the user and learn from this – it is a journey towards the final solution. The prototyping in itself describes the process. A prototype, on the other hand, is the result of this process and describes a crude version of the desired result. Prototype is a question, it’s a way to gain confidence in your idea. At its core, a prototype is a way of trying something out with your design’s audience before investing in its full development.
Architects do it, car builders do it, software developers do it, evolution does it: prototyping. Even Alfred Hitchcock, the famous movie director used prototyping - “At parties he read different versions of his story and worked on the comments of the audience in his later versions."
It is the moment where an idea becomes tangible. It is the first time you can get the user to touch and feel your idea. It’s a way to gain confidence in your idea.
Prototyping is not about the creation of just one artefact, but about an ongoing process that can repeat and improve itself towards a final solution. It is about the iterative generation of artefacts intended to answer questions that get you closer to your final solution. Which means your prototypes initially have a rough resolution or accuracy and become increasingly finer in the development process
In the early stages of a project that question may be broad. In later stages both your prototype and question may get a little more refined. The production of a prototype, i.e. the method of prototyping, is used to visualise ideas, to explore aspects of a solution or to test a preliminary result.
Build and Test...
re-build and re-test...
When in doubt, make something. Just do it!
Show, don't tell
Communicate your vision in an impactful and meaningful way by creating experiences, using illustrative visuals, and telling good stories.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, a prototype is worth a thousand pictures!
Prototyping and its relationship with Design Thinking
All the Design Thinking approaches mentioned have a similar process whereas prototyping is an inherent and crucial part. As we see the iterative character both in Design Thinking and prototyping, it is not remarkable that these methods often go hand in hand.