Parallel Prototyping (Speed Dating)

The sum of a team of designers’ efforts is greater than the outcome.

Parallel Prototyping is a step of the research process that happens before the iterative/refinement stages. Designers should fully explore the options available to them to make confident decisions and to not be fixated on a design too quickly. After multiple designers explore on their own, their progress is evaluated by users or experts to see in what aspects certain designs excelled at and what aspects can be further developed. All the designers’ efforts in the end accumulate into a cohesive and superior design. This research method helps bring multiple perspectives to the table and encourages collaboration that plays upon each designers’ strengths. Having multiple designs on the table also creates a more open environment for critique. Evaluators are more focused on looking between different designs rather than linking the design to a particular designer and calling them out for their poor design choices.

Parallel Prototyping happens a lot with group projects. If we are making a poster together, we may each start designing our own poster that has unique layouts, colors, and hierarchy. It may seem that we are wasting time by not just having one person make the design decisions and have other people work on research or writing content. However, with everyone’s differing poster designs laid out side by side, we can collaboratively create a poster that couldn’t have been made by just one individual. Parallel Prototyping can also happen with just one designer. Instead of quickly picking one theme or image, a designer can choose to make a spectrum of poster iterations that serve different purposes. After making those iterations, the designer can pick out the best elements from each poster and combine them to make a well thought out design.

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