What is Prototyping?
Prototyping is the process of developing an analog or digital draft of a design or product, allowing a developer to explore how the creation will function before making the final product. It provides a ways to test and explore the design without using too many resources.
Prototyping is a fundamental part of the design process because it allows a developer to quickly test and iterate their idea. Prototyping is about bringing conceptual or theoretical ideas to life and exploring their real-world impact before finally executing them (Dam and Siang 2020). A developed prototype may demonstrate the entire design or one aspect of the design.
Qualities of a Good Prototype
Representation: A prototype is a rudimentary representation of the actual product; its look, feel and working modalities should be the same to that of the final design.
Precision: The the fidelity of the prototype, meaning its level of detail, polish, and realism, equals better response and feedback.
Interactivity: The prototype should perform the key functions of the actual product; the capabilities of the prototype should be clearly outlined whether fully functional or partially functional.
Improvisation: The prototype can be adjusted with minimum effort.
Reasons and/or Importance of Prototyping
Prototyping is essential in resolving usability issues prior to launch of a product or design. It reveals areas that may need improvement, some of the reasons as to why prototyping is important include:
Inexpensive: It is cheaper to change a product early in the development phase than it is after completion.
Limits failure: Provides a developer room to streamline their development process and focus on important interface elements, allowing a developer to adjust earlier in the process and avoid errors.
Saves time: Proper planning during the prototyping phase makes it possible for the developer to elude major changes in the finished layout. During prototyping, it is possible to identify unnecessary elements, thus creating time to polish the final design based on what is required.
Efficient feedback, and improved and increased user involvement: Prototyping requires user involvement and allows the user to interact with a working model of the project. Users are able to give immediate feedback and request project changes, enabling the developer to eliminate misunderstandings and miscommunications during the development process.
Better understanding of the intended design/product: Provides a strong visualization of the design, thus creating an understanding of the look and feel of the final product. This helps the developer to better understand why they are designing, what they are creating, and for whom they are creating.