Unlock prototyping capabilities ; make hay when the sun shines

When to do what for creating an awesome prototype

You and I imagine technologies and design not as they are today, but how it should be in the future — Beautiful and user friendly. And presenting the imagination as prototype is, I believe, the most important part of executing it. We have to be careful with what we show, when, and how, to make sure that everyone gets what they need.

While high fidelity prototypes are fun to use, it’s not always recommended.
This article would help understand when to use low fidelity prototypes or high fidelity and how to use prototypes to the best of your benefit.

1. Focus on functionality and not glamour

While you want to test the functionality of the prototype, making a high fidelity prototype would only serve as a visual disturbance. A glamorous hi-fi prototype might sound great and look even better, but it just fantasizes the user and leads to users wandering about on your prototype. Now this is exactly what you DO NOT want. Isn’t it?

While the user is on the prototype, he should be checking the functionality rather than dropping his jaws by the look of it.

At early days of product designs — Functionality > Visuals

So just subside the urge of creating the visual giant in the first go. Put the pen to paper and make a low fidelity prototype to validate the functionality.

2. Mention the target of the prototype

What was the use of playing a “Super Mario” game if you didn’t know that jumping over cacti, bridges, ducks and monsters was not the aim of the game?? The aim was to collect maximum points(/coins) on the way to save the princess…(Ya I was super obsessed with the game)!

Same is the story here, just sharing your prototype is of no use to you if you do not mention to the user, what is the task that they need to complete on your prototype. Lets take an e-commerce app prototype for example — “Buy an iPhone app on the prototype”. Now that’s when the user knows what he should do when the link opens.

That’s when you can estimate the actual time and no. of interactions a user on your app will take when he is looking for an iPhone on your app.

3. Sketch-Capture-Prototype

Creating beautiful designs for prototypes in step 1, is not just a visual disturbance for the user, but also a costly affair for you. Do not believe me? Let me just prove it to you –

You not only take time to create such lovely designs, but every time you tweak the idea based on a feedback, you have to update the same on the designs. Lots of working hours and effort goes into these iterations. Isn’t it?

So the simplest solution is to sketch out the idea on a sheet, take images and prototype them. Next time when you want to iterate all you have to do is — ERASE and RE-DRAW. You would save a LOTTTTT of time by this.

4. When to make the “Hi-Fidelity” prototypes

When it comes to selling a concept to an executive team, we have to go high fidelity because it really helps people to grasp the ideas. Some people aren’t able to see where you’re going without it. says Russell Wilson, Partner & Head of Design at Microsoft Business Intelligence.

This is exactly when you need a high fidelity prototype. This is when you to pick you big gun and shoot!

5. Test prototype on multiple target devices

You might be designing and prototyping on the high-end mac with the latest browser , and it might be very smooth and beautiful on your device. But the experience will not be the same, if your teammates or clients are using it on a five year old computer with an old browser. So make sure you impress ALL, by testing it on multiple target devices before you present it.

Jason Broughton, Head of User Experience at Zappos, says — “It depends on the project. If you’re pitching to an executive team, you might want high-fidelity. It’s not black and white. It just needs to adapt to the circumstance.”

Waiting to hear from you folks!