A prototype is an early mockup of a product, built to evaluate the concept or design with users. Prototypes can be paper-based or digital, with varying degrees of interactivity. They are often thrown away when done.
- Prototype Designer
- Graphic Designer (as needed)
- Software Developer (as needed)
- Determine the goals you are trying to achieve with your prototype
Refer to the Prototyping Planning Guide to clarify what you are going to build.
- Define the scope of the prototype
Determine how much needs to be built to meet your goals and which tool you will use.
- Plan your design
Think through the overall structure, layout, navigation, interactive components, content, visual treatment, and any other elements, based on your goals.
- Build the prototype
Review and refine the prototype along the way to ensure it is complete enough to meet the goals.
- Use the prototype with your intended audiences to accomplish the prototyping goals
This may include design walkthroughs, usability tests, stakeholder demonstrations, communicating with the team, etc.
- Collect and analyze feedback
Identify key findings, recommendations, and next steps.
- Consider additional prototyping activities, as needed
This may include building a more elaborate prototype, developing “competing” prototypes to explore design options, shifting from simple prototyping tools (e.g. paper and pencil) to more sophisticated tools, etc.
- Build only what you need to support your prototyping goals. You can always build more later.
- Paper prototyping is a great way to test core concepts, basic flow, and overall value without having too much detail get in the way.
- Avoid getting overly attached to the prototype, because the design will likely change over time.
Tips for Life Sciences
- When possible, use realistic data in your prototype to build credibility of the design and better engage scientists.
- You may need to do some background research to better understand the specific subject matter and context of use.
- Review the prototype with a subject matter expert to identify any inaccurate content prior to showing the prototype your intended audiences.
- Engage the audience with the prototype in the environment where it will be used. If in a lab, consider any environmental/safety implications (e.g. personal protective equipment)
“If a picture is worth 1000 words, a prototype is worth 1000 meetings.” – saying @ideo
- Prototyping Planning Guide (docx) - Use this 3-step guide to help identify your prototyping goals, high-level scope, and intended level of quality.
- Free paper prototype paper templates (pdf) - iPhone, iPad and Apple watch templates for paper prototyping.