Benefits of prototyping for product designers

Dương Trần Quốc, Unsplash

A lot of new tools released recently have made prototyping easier and more powerful. Continue reading for some of the reasons why I find prototyping to be one of my most powerful tools as a digital product designer.

“A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from.”
— Wikipedia definition

1Stop describing and start showing. All products starts as an idea. Prototypes are often the first tangible realisation of that idea — something that you can hold and interact with. Up until that moment you can only describe your idea. Research and initial design let you describe it in more detail but the prototype is the first time you go from describing your product to showing it. And showing what you mean is always more powerful than describing what you mean.

2 Bring everyone on the same page. There are often many people involved in developing a product. One of the most important aspects to a successful project is to keep everyone on the same page from vision to execution. This minimises the risk of having to redo work which can be both frustrating and costly. By letting all parties interact with what you’re building they can get an understanding of the progress and make sure that it’s on the right track.

3 Nail your presentations and get buy in. Showing a prototype in a pitch or as part of a presentation can be a powerful persuasion method. It breaks the traditional presentation slides format and get people excited. Holding the design and interacting with it makes the goal of a finished product feel so much closer.

4 Include your users. Putting your product in front of users as soon as possible in the design process is key. You learn from observing them interact with it and can make necessary changes if you notice any usability issues. Prototypes can easily be understood and perceived by users as if they were using the finished product. This is why prototyping is essential in usability testing.

5Connect the dots and think in flows. When designing a product it’s easy to get stuck working on a particular screen and overlook how it fits in with the overall experience. Prototyping is all about linking together your product experience. Building a prototype often teaches you something new by changing the way you look at your designs.

These are a few reasons for why I’ve found prototyping to be a powerful tool as a product designer. If you can think of more write a comment below. Happy prototyping!