A guide to building prototypes


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A 5 minute talk on how to build prototypes; not what prototypes are or why you should build them, just some principles to use when building prototypes. Inspired by countless things, there's an earlier, more wordy version at http://www.cookinrelaxin.com/2010/04/guide-to-building-prototypes.html

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A guide to building prototypes

  1. 1. A guide to building prototypes (and maybe how to do some other kinds of development) Tristan Ferne BBC R&D Prototyping team
  2. 2. !what Not really about what a prototype is, or what bits of a system you should prototype
  3. 3. !why Nor is it about why you should build prototypes
  4. 4. how It's about how you go about building them, particularly in teams And it's not definitive in any way, just some things I've learnt
  5. 5. Ideas are easy Building things is harder So start off by prototyping something
  6. 6. Build it to understand and surface problems Because until you build it you won't truly understand it
  7. 7. Research your area There aren't many new ideas so you must know about the area you're going into
  8. 8. Don’t chase shiny things It will distract you. And similarly, don't get hung up on particular technologies You should support people's passions, but be pragmatic
  9. 9. Make it simple
  10. 10. simple ...then simpler still
  11. 11. Embrace {constraints} They are there to help you and make you more creative
  12. 12. Define some scope Even if you're not given any, create some limits yourself to what you're going to build. You can change the scope later but you'll have something to work to.
  13. 13. Know when to stop Make up a deadline if necessary, and then reduce scope if you're not going to make it
  14. 14. Itera Iterate to make it better All of this is a way of saying use agile development...deliver working software, respond to change, use sprints. But I'm not going to argue with you about methodologies, there are lots out there, just be prepared to be flexible
  15. 15. Iterat
  16. 16. Iterate
  17. 17. T-shaped people That is, people who have broad interests in many directions but have deep knowledge and skills in one particular area
  18. 18. Work together Ideally you want engineers and designers to work closely to explore problems from many perspectives simultaneously. I believe that the best things come from a fusion of design and engineering.
  19. 19. Work together And talk a lot Talk a lot within the team and make sure everyone knows what everyone else is doing.
  20. 20. Sketch On envelopes or napkins or with code. Creating quick low fidelity prototypes helps communicate problems and create a shared understanding of what you're doing.
  21. 21. Lowest resolution Make it good enough to work and look good enough to interest people, but don't spend time on optimisation or making it too polished.
  22. 22. Tell people about it Talking about, or presenting, your project helps you form and develop your ideas, and obviously gets other people thinking and engaged
  23. 23. Make it fun
  24. 24. Make it fun (but not frivolous)
  25. 25. START Once you get going it will get easier. But be ready to iterate or even fail.
  26. 26. Tristan Ferne BBC R&D Prototyping team http://www.cookinrelaxin.com/2010/04/guide- to-building-prototypes.html One last thing I just thought of. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Those are some things I think are important when building prototypes. I hope you might find them useful in some part of your work. You can read more at this url: http://www.cookinrelaxin.com/2010/04/guide-to-building-prototypes.html