Prototyping is the process of creating a working sample of a product, concept, or process. This sample is a prototype. It is an important tool in product design and UX design that is the first step towards testing the practical feasibility of the product. In this article, we will discuss further, as to why prototyping is an important tool for designers.
Prototyping Vs Proof of Concept
Prototyping is often confused with proof of concept. Although similar in nature, proof of concept is more of a theoretical proof. It means that the theory behind the concept is valid. On the other hand, prototyping is proof that the theory is applicable in real life, for practical purposes. It is the realisation of the theory in an actual working product.
Prototyping is like a pilot program which checks the feasibility of a product. It tests the efficiency and effectiveness of the product, which shows whether a product is suitable for mass production.
Inferior products reach the market with no prototyping, which leads to many problems, as it takes very long to fix the issues on such a large scale. This could be damaging to the company’s prospects. For this reason, prototyping is an important tool for designers to employ in order to avoid such a product crash.
Some Benefits of Prototyping are:
Testing practicality – the prototype is basically built to test the real-world conditions. It helps test the waters and based on the feedback, the decision to release or retain the product may be taken.
Testing user experience/interface – a well-made prototype provides accurate testing conditions. The participants are able to get a feel of the final product and report on how user-friendly the product is.
Cost-effective aspect – a prototype uses limited resources as compared to full-scale production. In case of problems or imperfections, it is easier to make changes on a single product before releasing it for wider use.
Scope for improvement – a working model enables designers to see for themselves the advantages and disadvantages of the product. It shows any problems that were unclear during the theoretical phase. Once a design flaw is detected, it is fixed.
Opportunity to attract investors – Nothing convinces investors to provide funds than a well-made working model. A working idea greatly impresses investors, who then invest in the company as it already has a prototype in place.
Types of Prototyping
Low Fidelity – these are cheaper and less accurate ways of prototyping. They are usually paper-based models. They are fast and provide a quick review, but don’t allow proper user interaction as users never test on these since they are just a theoretical product.
High Fidelity – these are the real deal. These prototypes are very similar to the final product. Users try this model out to see how well it works. Therefore, this provides a realistic measure of efficiency based on actual user results. Designers use them to impress potential investors.
Popular Prototyping Tools
Figma – it is a graphics editing and UI app. It has many free features that allow you to create 3 active projects at once. It helps in designing prototyping apps along with mobile app interface, social media posts and many other features.
Adobe XD – this is another popular app for prototyping. It helps create very real-feeling designs, which result in more accurate testing. It is a vector-based UX design platform and is available for MAC and Windows operating systems.
InVision Studio – it is a high-fidelity based system which lets you create very accurate testing prototypes. This is also a vector-based platform, which provides flexibility in designing apps.
Webflow – this is another popular tool which provides software service for creating and hosting websites. It is a Software as Service (SaaS) platform that allows designers to test their website designs.
Prototyping Vs Final Product
Prototyping is a mock-up of the desired final product. It tests the usability and efficiency of the final product. It lacks refinement compared to the final product, which is free of problems. The prototype is a skeletal structure that tests the product for shortcomings and helps fix the defects before finalising the product.
Prototyping is an important tool for designers because it performs the dual task of testing a design and in determining the flaws in it. It creates a better quality product by removing the flaws during the testing process. The final product is thus, free from problems and fit for release in the market.