Knowing When to Prototype
In a conversation about a project I was working on, Patrick Whitney, the dean IIT Institute of Design at the time, said something that I want to keep reminding myself of as a designer.
“As designers, we often make an informed guess at what might be a much better solution than would otherwise exist . We don’t have to know all of the reasons why it is better, just that it is likely. If we kept trying to understand all the reasons, we would never get to prototyping. We are not looking for the single right answer; rather we seek the best of many possible solutions.”
A lot of times it is easy to get lost in trying to know everything or feeling like we know too little to move forward or that we need just a little more research before we can decide what the best way to go forward is. What I have learnt through many projects at ID is that, in dealing with complex problems, you will never know everything.That does not stop you from having a hunch about what a better solution might be. Patrick calls these guesses.
It is important as a designer to take that leap of faith, at this stage, and create a prototype. Depending on where you are in the project, it can help you think better about aspects of the solution you never considered, get user feedback on the rough solution and get an early sense of what works and what doesn’t and if nothing else, it is a way to externalize your thinking- to take the load off your head and onto something physical/digital which can then free up your mind to think about the finer details.
What’s important to remember as a designer, I think, is that we are not looking for the one right answer but we are looking for better choices that those that exist. Any solution we create to a problem will always have room for improvement but to get to that, we need to prototype first.
Originally published at ishanbhalla.com.