Prototyping is (or should be) an essential part of the design and development programme for a website, app or other digital products. The reason for this is very simple; developing one of these products represents a considerable investment of time, money and effort; if you get it wrong it can be very expensive but even if you don’t get it as right as you could, it can still cost you money in wasted resources or lost time and revenue/profit.
Prototypes are models of the product you are building designed to test the principles and ideas on which the product is based.
They can be very basic, skeletal schematics showing the various elements of the product and how they relate and interact. Or it could be a full scale working model with high degrees of functionality and interfacing designed to replicate the workings of the final version pretty accurately. And there are many potential levels in between these.
Prototyping can be used for different purposes. You might just wish to test out an idea to see if it makes sense in practice and search out any obvious flaws or misconceptions at an early stage.
Prototypes are also often used to sell an idea to management or colleagues who might have difficulty envisaging what you are talking about without some tangible aid. Being able to show people the basic elements of a concept, how it operates and what it can do is much more likely to get you a green light for further development than talking in abstract ideas and generalities. It can also ensure that everyone is talking the same language and on the same page and there are no misunderstandings about exactly what is proposed and planned.
Another very useful spin-off from the prototyping process is that it can create ideas and generate enthusiasm, creativity and working together in a way that other activity can’t. You can get input from across a variety of disciplines and get different perspectives on how relevant and useful aspects of the proposal are. When you show the prototype to colleagues they will find it easier to understand and comment on the process and gauge the impact on their area of work and what they personally might bring to the project.
Prototyping can also break down barriers and resistance to risk, new thinking, cooperation and new ways of working. Organisations can be resistant to change and people can be protective over their ideas and work.
Using a prototype can help reassure and involve staff in the process rather than appearing to impose or dictate new ideas or arrangements. If employees can see where they fit and envisage a useful role in a new project or setup, even if it is different to the role they currently perform, they will feel more comfortable in supporting and contributing. Few people actively like risk but prototyping helps to break the risk down in both human and financial terms.
If you would like to know more about this important aspect of UX testing , why not ring us on +44(0)800 024624 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a quick chat or an in-depth discussion, which ever you need.