The Right Type of Prototype


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How do you know what to prototype? What details are important to get right? What level of interactivity is necessary to get valid feedback?

Prototypes are very effective tools for playing out ideas, testing concepts and getting feedback. But they are often left out of the design and development cycles due to their disposable nature. It can be tough to justify the effort to make something for the purpose of experiment. Finding the right prototype medium and minimum level of detail required is essential. Without it, how will you get the stakeholder buy-in and funding?

Learn how to match your prototype fidelity to the information you need to gather. Understand the range of prototype techniques and match them to your situation. Get maximum value and minimize your project risk.

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  • I worked on a project for 18 months for a company called Manpower. We designed immersive experiences to help turn personal career management into an openly social activity. In research and design, the company spent $11 million dollars. After 1 year, we had 500 users. After 2 years, it was shut down. Most of them internal. We created reams of wireframes. We created no prototypes.
  • Prototypes get ideas out of our heads and into something concrete, something we can explore and collectively ponder. So many ideas seem brilliant in our heads, but when we start creating them, we find a better direction.
  • There are a lot of different techniques and tools out there. Earlier today Jason talked about avoiding climbing the fidelity cliff. I am going to share with you how to figure out the right tool and fidelity for you.
  • This is the framework that I use to recommend a prototyping strategy. Much like balancing user, business and tech needs in an experience design, the prototype strategy needs to balance these.

    Fred Beecher mentioned prototypes as a design tool and I’d like to emphasize that. We often just think of it as testing stimuli.
  • The Right Type of Prototype

    1. 1. Gail Swanson Associate Creative Director | XD @sapientNitro
    2. 2. RISK Sometimes you can’t tell until you build it. @practicallyUX | #prototypecamp
    3. 3. Prototype Techniques © Gail Swanson@practicallyUX | #prototypecamp
    4. 4. Picking a prototype approach Purpose Context of Use Timing Tools & Team @practicallyUX | #prototypecamp
    5. 5. What can I do with a prototype? Explore Ideas Collaborate Test an Idea Optimize a solution Proof of Concept Communicate @practicallyUX | #prototypecamp
    6. 6. What’s my context? In Person Distributed team Remote Testing Unmoderated Web Conference @practicallyUX | #prototypecamp
    7. 7. When will it be used? Early concept Mid Project Final Validation When resources are available @practicallyUX | #prototypecamp
    8. 8. Tools & Team Mad skillz yo Software License Multiple Contributors @practicallyUX | #prototypecamp
    9. 9. Scenarios How much do you really need to reveal? Can you fake it? @practicallyUX | #prototypecamp
    10. 10. Prototype Techniques © Gail Swanson@practicallyUX | #prototypecamp
    11. 11. Prototypes translate the abstract world of words and ideas into concrete form. What is your riskiest assumption, hypothesis or unknown? @practicallyUX | #prototypecamp
    12. 12. Photo Credits Utah Deafblind Project, ookGP2.html @practicallyUX | #prototypecamp
    13. 13. Thank you. Gail Swanson Twitter: @practicallyux blog: