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What is a prototype?

A prototype is a pre-production sample, model, or release of a product that is used to test a concept or process. A prototype is typically used to test a new design in order to increase analyst and system user accuracy. It is the stage between the formalization of an idea and its judgment.

The goal of a prototype is to have a physical model of the answers to the challenges that the designers have already specified and discussed during the concept/idea stage.

Prototypes allow designers to test their concepts by presenting an early version of the solution in front of real people and collecting input as rapidly as feasible, rather than going through the entire design cycle based on a fictitious solution.

Prototypes can save lives by reducing the waste of energy, time, and money associated with deploying ineffective or inappropriate solutions.

Another benefit of prototyping is that the risk is reduced due to the modest expenditure.

The prototype's importance in Design Thinking:

* The team must do or develop something in order to invent and solve difficulties.

* To convey concepts in a clear and intelligible manner.

* To begin a discussion with end users about a specific topic in order to obtain precise input.

* To experiment with different options without settling on a single solution; * To fail fast and cheaply and learn from mistakes before committing too much time, reputation, or money.

* Organize the process of developing solutions by dividing down complicated problems into smaller, testable components.

Hi-fi prototypes are the final step before development and almost represent the final product. They incorporate visual design (color, typography, etc.).

It's no surprise that the definition is hazy: a prototype might be anything from a series of sketches representing several displays to a pixel-perfect prelaunch interface.

In this post, we'll define prototyping, go through different sorts of prototypes and how to construct them, and, most importantly, look at how we keep our UX design focused on users.

Exact meaning of Prototype

"A simulation or sample version of a finished product, used for testing before to launch," is the most basic definition of "prototype." A prototype's purpose is to test items (and product concepts) before investing a significant amount of time and money on the final product.

Before launching a product, prototyping is critical for overcoming usability difficulties. It can also identify locations where work has to be done. Once we have a draft of our product concept in the hands of real people, we will be able to observe how they intend to utilize it.

Prototypes have 4 main qualities:

  • Representation - The prototype's physical form, such as paper and mobile or HTML and desktop.
  • Precision - The prototype's fidelity, or level of detail, polish, and realism.
  • Interactivity - The extent to which a user's capability is available, such as fully functional, somewhat functional, or view-only.
  • Evolution - The prototype's life cycle. Some are produced fast, tested, discarded, and replaced with a better version (a process known as "rapid prototyping"). Others may be developed and enhanced, eventually leading to the final product.

One of the most common misunderstandings about prototyping is that it is only required once or twice towards the conclusion of the design phase. This isn't correct. "Test early and test often," is one of UXPin's mottos.

Every feasible iteration of our design should be prototyped, including the very first, most basic concept.

Prototypes are any version of our product that can be utilized for testing, not just beta tests that look like the final version. It doesn't matter if it's paper, low-fidelity, high-fidelity, or HTML as long as it gives us new insights into how users would naturally use the product.

Methodology of Prototyping

Prototypes can be anything, as we mentioned earlier. We'll divide them into three categories for this post: paper, digital, and HTML.

Prototyping on paper

Paper prototyping, which predates the Internet, works best in the early stages of design, mostly for testing product ideas.

It's as simple as it sounds: basic screens are drawn on paper and set to look like digital interactions. One frequent method of testing these prototypes is to have one person play "the product" while switching the sketches based on the user's actions.

Advantages

  • Fast - Paper works great for testing ideas because we can construct a rapid paper prototype in 5 minutes. We can make one quickly (even during a brainstorming session), and it's not a big deal if it doesn't work out.
  • Inexpensive - Paper prototypes are nearly free because they only require paper and basic office equipment. (We could buy specialized tools like stencils or a replica phone cradle if we want to boost the level of precision, but these are optional.)
  • Team-building - Paper prototypes are enjoyable to construct and can help to improve team relationships. In fact team building is all about a bunch of people working together and using their hands brings people together while enjoying what they are doing.
  • Documentation - Paper prototypes, unlike digital and HTML prototypes, can be maintained as a reference for future modifications. They can also be used to write notes and modifications, allowing us to have everything in one spot.

Disadvantages

  • Unrealistic - Paper prototypes, no matter how excellent the art or workmanship, are still a poor substitute for a digital system since the amount of usability data obtained is always limited.
  • False positives - Paper prototypes don't always test what we're looking for. People may comment on the prototype itself, rather than the concept it represents.
  • No gut reactions - Paper prototypes rely on the user's imagination, allowing them to take a gap between seeing the stimuli and responding to it. For an effective UX, that "gut" reaction is vital.

• Given the benefits and drawbacks, we advocate paper prototyping only during the early stages of a project, when the majority of the work is still conceptual. The larger the distance between paper prototypes and the final product becomes as we progress through the design process.

Digital Prototyping

Digital prototypes are the most frequent type of prototyping, because they're realistic enough to test most interface elements effectively.

Apps and software designed expressly for prototyping can be used to create digital prototypes. Even presentation software like PowerPoint or Keynote can be used to create rudimentary digital prototypes.

Advantages

  • Realistic interactions - We can simply see that how, when a user will enter in the environment and how it will interact with different objects in the final product.
  • Flexibility - Early and often testing is essential! We can start with low-fidelity prototypes and work our way up as the design process progresses.
  • Speed - Although paper prototypes have the advantage, digital prototypes are faster than HTML if we want a computerized interface. Although speed varies each app, most include user-friendly interfaces and features such as interactive parts and drag-and-drop.

Disadvantages

  • Learning curve - We'll need to understand the software before we can build our prototype. (However, because the most of them have user-friendly interfaces, it shouldn't be too tough.)
  • Transitioning to code - Translating our designs into code can be hit or miss depending on the software; incompatible aspects may be lost in the process, forcing us to start over.

HTML Prototyping

HTML prototype, the final category, is solely advised for designers who are comfortable with coding. HTML prototypes have a lot of benefits, but they carry a technical cost.


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