Prototype creation is one of the most critical steps in the design process, even when confusing. A common mistake some designers make is defining mockups such as prototypes. That may sound more straightforward to those who know otherwise! Today, we'll show you what a UX prototype means, its uses, methods, and tools, and how a good UX prototype can optimize all projects.
What is UX Prototyping?
The UX prototype is an element with high visual capabilities that simulates a final product. Its goal is to test and confirm designers' ideas, products' functionalities, and UX goals before sharing them with stakeholders. Thus, when the design handoff takes place, it'll produce a successful outcome.
Prototypes are essential to identify and address conflicting users' points to solve the problems hand in hand with the participants during usability testing. By testing prototypes with final users, UX teams can visualize and optimize a product's UX. You should know that engineering is expensive and often involves executing changes to a final product. Thus, a well-made prototype can help to reduce costs and production times.
What is the UX Prototyping Process?
A blank canvas can be overwhelming after receiving over 50 document pages. Let alone receiving clients' disorganized comments, sketches on napkins, or blackboard photos. These rarely help! Prototyping not only needs more data straightforward ideas. Collecting data details before putting the pen on the paper is essential.
Now, the question is: what steps should you follow to create a good UX prototype? First, you need to answer some questions to have a clear landscape of what you’re trying to achieve before starting with the initial sketches.
1. What are the goals of the project?
2. What competitive products are people using?
3. Who is the audience? What are their goals?
4. What product type and what device is it for?
5. Is there a visual precedent to follow?
6. What are the deliverables?
You're ready to start prototyping once you've responded to these questions. Considering all this, it'll help you to create the best UX prototype and avoid issues. The design thinking process might be a pivoting topic for you and your team!
What are the Types of UX Prototyping?
Generally, prototypes go through several refinement iterations to get the best possible solutions. To create profitable products, there are two main types of prototyping:
Lo-Fi UX Prototyping
Low-Fidelity prototypes are a way to translate a high-level design vision into something tangible. It's easy to detect a Lo-Fi prototype when you see it. They're black and white and lack brand elements, yet their vital attribute is the interactivity. Generally, images go for a process replacement, specifically for placeholders.
Hi-Fi UX Prototyping
Once your prototype has survived the first round of comments, it's time to build it! A high-Fidelity prototype represents detailed and realistic elements. Everything is in the place where it should be in the launch version. Moreover, the interactions and animations will be closed by an encrypted application. In this way, we put a good example of Hi-Fi prototypes created in Figma.
How to Achieve Good UX Prototypes?
We usually divide the prototypes according to fidelity level. However, other prototyping methods exist, such as paper, digital, and HTML. As a designer, you should choose the best option that suits the design collaborative process and goals.
Digital UX Prototyping
Digital enables High-Fidelity prototyping creation to test apps and software. They're straightforward to create compared with coding.
Paper UX Prototyping
Paper prototypes mean drawing by hand on paper or a blackboard. This type is ideal for getting a first impression of the product concept. It's excellent for creating Lo-Fi prototypes that don't need a high-capability level, as it only takes paper and pencil. Although it seems easy, you must focus on the product's main areas, leaving advanced interactions for later. These prototypes are straightforward, and it's hard to edit a drawing when it's finished.
HTML UX Prototyping
Other methodologies to mention are the storyboards, which allow testing user journeys. Roleplaying helps to explore scenarios of the different roles as well. Wireframes are also a Lo-Fi prototype type that enables you to create an excellent final version of a digital product. Designing a good prototype encompasses many tools like Figma, Adobe XD, Mockplus, Balsamiq, Proto.io, etc.
What are the Benefits of UX Prototyping?
UX prototyping is essential because you must picture ideas before wasting resources and time. Prototypes help you create and confirm statements, giving you a neat and clear concept that allows you to get early comments. Prototyping allows us to check the usability of an idea and see if the design will be profitable.
In short, the UX prototype helps to reconcile a better alignment with product teamwork. When creating UX prototypes, adding meaningful content and fundamental interactions is essential. Mapping users' flow and testing on real devices is also crucial to everything and continuous iterative processes. That's what it's all about. Try until an option fits the objectives.
Frequent Questions about UX Prototyping
Are UX Prototyping methodologies the same as the types?
Can I make a non-functional prototype?
Actually, yes! You can create prototypes that are reading-only as well as partially functional.
Should I stay with the first prototype that works for me?
No! Stay with the prototype that fits best for your goals and user needs! To do so, you must keep testing to see which works better.
Does a prototype only serve at the beginning of the design process?
Rather than a question, this is a widely assumed misconception! People think they must create one or two versions of their product at the beginning of the design process, and everything will be perfect. The truth is that this depends on the project’s complexity. Maybe a straightforward task might need one sole prototype, and another might require even six or five iterations to define the best version.
Prototyping is fundamental for the success of any project, whether complex or straightforward. Visualizing and user testing your ideas in the early design stage ensures an intuitive, user-friendly product can satisfy your users' needs. This way, you can conciliate solid apps and websites, avoiding costly mistakes. Are you ready to master your next prototype?