Prototyping for everyone

How can a prototype of a website or app be visualized quickly and easily? A team of Swisscom employees has developed a useful prototyping toolkit in response to this question.

Prototyping is a central process in designing user-friendly digital applications. Prototypes help the visualization of initial ideas for discussion and testing with future users. Often, companies must enlist experts in the development of prototypes, even though they do not need to be complex in the early stages of a project. Michael Baeriswyl, Renato Sutter and I, a small, agile and interdisciplinary team working in the field of human-centered design at Swisscom, wanted to change this. We have developed a prototyping toolkit that every Swisscom employee can use.

Useful prototypes

A prototype is a model that represents the planned layout or structure of a website or app. It is useful for identifying potential problems early on in the development that would otherwise result in costly mistakes. A prototype can also unite the vision of individual members of a project team. In the early stages of a digital project, the communication of a concept can be a challenge, and may lead to time loss due to unproductive discussions. This can be reduced drastically by visualizing ideas early and building prototypes that represent these ideas as a common language for project teams and stakeholders.

PowerPoint as a solution

Many techniques and tools can be used to build prototypes, from simple paper in the initial phase to more complex tools as the design becomes more attractive visually. At this point, building prototypes is usually not that easy for employees who are not experts in interaction design. We wanted to provide a tool that could be used by every Swisscom employee for the simple and fast building of website and app prototypes. The result? A prototyping toolkit for PowerPoint that includes all necessary elements, such as navigation, controls and branding. At first glance, PowerPoint may not be the obvious choice for a prototyping tool, but it is in fact very effective and, moreover, it is installed on every Swisscom computer.

The toolkit enables the creation of one screen after another in just a few clicks without any coding experience. Once finished, it can be exported directly to the user’s desktop, tablet or smartphone for testing. This means findings from a testing can be evaluated in a short period of time. The elements are deliberately kept as a draft design, so it is clear that it is a prototype and not the final product.

We are pleased that the Prototyping Kit was awarded the Swisscom Champion Award in the Innovation category. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Interactive Things for its great support in development of the toolkit.

This article originally appeared on We love ICT.