WHAT I LEARNED IN RAPID PROTOTYPING COURSE AT Udacity

Last week I enrolled Udacity’s Rapid Prototyping” online course which is offered by Google. I remember what prototype and prototyping means from my academic course. I enrolled this course to brush up my knowledge and to get some new tools, ideas and knowledge.

In this article I will describe what I learned from that course. Feel free to read.

WHAT IS PROTOTYPE

A prototype is a replica of the actual product. Basically, it shows how the actual product would look, feel and work in the real world. It is the proof of the concept.

WHY PROTOTYPE IS IMPORTANT

Like I said before a prototype shows how the actual product would look, feel and work in real life. A prototype is as close as you can get to the actual product without actually producing/building it. Also, it is the most time and money saving way in the production life cycle. Just think about it. You have a seemingly good idea. You invest time and money to build the product. And right after launch, you find out the users do not like it because of some design flaws. Or in case of web/mobile app, it is slow or confusing. Wouldn’t it be nice to get the users feeling or reaction before investing so much time and money? This is the main reason behind prototyping. Besides, all the major players in all the industries use the prototype to test the User Experience (UX).

HOW MUCH IT COSTS

Let’s just say, considering the time and production cost, it is cheap.

LOW FIDELITY

This is the very basic level of prototyping. I do it all the time. Using pen and paper. You can call it blueprint, wireframe, design or whatever you like. The advantage of pen and paper is, it is as cheap as it gets. Also, it is the most affordable and available tool at our disposal. And it doesn’t require advance knowledge to operate. The downside are it is relatively difficult to share or collaborate and also you might require a lot of papers to erase and redo some things.

PS: YOU DON’T HAVE TO DRAW THE ENTIRE PRODUCT. JUST THE BLUEPRINT.

MEDIUM FIDELITY

It is much more informative and detail level or prototyping. Likely scenario is it will tell the actual size, position and color of the components to be used in the actual product. Probably, it might tell you how things would work in the actual product.

You can use Keynote or PowerPoint for this purpose. These products are also widely available. The upside is, it will provide you a lot of detail information about the product and it is easier to editing and reuse. The downside is sharing and user research.

HIGH FIDELITY

This is the highest level of prototyping. It is the miniature version of actual product with all the major components and features available. It is the pre final product that is made after getting the necessary feedback from the end users.

WHAT TO CHOOSE

It will entirely depend on the budget and requirements you have for the project. For example, if you have rough idea about the end product, you can go for low fidelity. Then step by step you can upgrade to high fidelity prototype. Or if you have clear idea about the product then go for medium fidelity. With little adjustments and user research you can move to high fidelity prototype.

USER FEEDBACK

This is the most important part in prototyping. We have to take users feedback. A pool of 3 to 5 end users will do the job perfectly fine. One thing to remember in this stage is that: quality is more important than quantity. So, experts said the ideal user experience testing pool should contain 3–5 people.

THINGS TO REMEMBER

When taking user feedback, try to record it if possible(Of course with their consent). It will help you later on in building final prototype and in development stage.

To be accurate, select a subject pool that is diverse(Like male and female, profession or age etc.). Guide the user to the feedback process if they asked but don’t be an obstacle in the natural feedback process by manipulating them.

Questions should be specific, core to the product or service and understandable by the end user. And follow the KISS (Keep it Short and Simple) method.

A video guide or a “how to…” manual can be helpful to you in UX testing.

TOOLS YOU CAN USE

I happen to believe the idea “Use whatever suits you the best”. That being said, not every tool is for everything. And different people use same tools differently. So, here are some tools that might help you in prototyping:

  1. Pen/pencil and paper
  2. Marker pen and whiteboard, chalk and blackboard
  3. Built in painting tool in your OS
  4. Adobe Photoshop, GIMP or similar alternative software
  5. PowerPoint, Keynote or similar alternative
  6. Origami by Facebook
  7. Pixate by Google
  8. Notable by Zurb
  9. UXPin
  10. InVisionApp
  11. And whatever suits your demand… :)

To sum up the article:

  1. A prototype is the actual product that is yet to be build.
  2. User feedback is one of the most important part in prototyping
  3. Use tools that is known to you, suitable to your customers, easy to take user feedback.

This small article is to share my knowledge with you. If you are interested and want to know more, feel free to enroll the Udacity’s Rapid Prototyping” course. It is free, informative and fun. There are also a lot more (both free and paid) apps available in the internet that you can use in prototyping.

HOW DO YOU LIKE MY WRITING? ANY TIPS, SUGGESTIONS, CORRECTIONS AND GUIDELINES WILL BE WELL APPRECIATED. FEEL FREE TO SHARE AND COMMENT… :)