Prototyping is nothing new, but its role in the creative process is evolving. As designers, developers and marketers crave more agile processes and as new prototyping technologies emerge, prototyping is helping the creative process move from a linear one to a method that’s faster, more nimble, and more inclusive of the entire team, from designers and developers to stakeholders and even end users.
Want to make better use of prototyping in your projects? Here are four things you need to know about the changing role of prototyping, and how it can help you create better-than-ever customer experiences.
1. Prototyping is a process, not a deliverable
Whereas they were once thought of as a single deliverable used for stakeholder review and approval or user testing, prototypes are now thought of as an ongoing process that can help you develop, refine, test and rework concepts and ideas. It’s no longer a linear process, and prototyping is more than just one stop along the way.
2. Prototypes can take whatever form fits your intended audience best
This can be anything from low-fidelity sketches and storyboards or internal brainstorming, to high-fidelity Photoshop or Sketch comps, app prototypes, 3D printed mockups or actual coded interfaces for stakeholder buyoff or user testing. What’s most important is choosing the ideal form and level of fidelity for your prototype so it can serve its intended purpose and move your project forward.
3. Prototypes provide value at all stages of the design process
Early in the design process, prototypes can help weed out ideas that would likely fail later, as well as fight biases designers may have about the worth of their own ideas. And, early-stage prototyping can have a real-life financial benefit, as it helps solve design and development issues way before coding can start. Later on, prototyping can help refine ideas and clear the path for more effective user testing.
4. Prototyping can become the design documentation for a project
As interactivity in design projects increases, so does the need for detailed documentation. And sometimes, a project’s documentation feels like more work than the creative deliverable itself. Many of the latest and greatest prototyping tools include functionality that allows teams to share and test prototypes, collect feedback and track revisions and approvals, effectively becoming the design documentation for the project and freeing up more time for creative work and iteration.
If you’re eager to further understand how, when and why you should prototype then check out the most recent course from Aquent Gymnasium, Prototyping for Digital Products and Websites. And, if you want to know more about how the changing role of prototyping will affect your work along with other industry trends for this year, download our 2019 Trends whitepaper for free today!