I am an Interaction Design Masters Student at Domus Academy, located in Milan, Italy. We recently were given a lecture where we went from Idea to Prototype in 12 hours. During this workshop, we were asked to role play our digital product before building out the clickable prototype.
The way this works is you ask your co-worker, user, a friend, a relative, or anyone besides your dog to help out. You explain what your product does and then ask them to play the role of the user while you play the role of the product. Then you act out what your product does.
Although it is quite a simple concept to grasp the benefits of it were immediately evident. For example, if I were to be creating a Pet Tracking GPS application, I would play the Pet Tracking App while someone else plays the user. It also helps to use props, for this example a cardboard cutout which resembles a cell phone and I can put my face through the screen area would be a nice way to enhance the role playing experience.
User: Open App
App: What would you like to do: track pet, monitor health, view past data, or settings
User: Well I wish I just immediately saw where my pet was, but I would like to track my pet!
Although this may be obvious sometimes as a designer, you get too much in your head. Role playing is a quick and easy way to learn essential aspects of what people will expect from your product and can help you design more cleverly. The best part is it is a fast and cheap. All you need is another human, and you are ready to test!