Author’s note: This document is being constantly updated; please expect revisions.

A Prototype is a mode of a Design Artifact whose main purpose is fostering the following:

  • Innovation
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity 1

It occurs during the Improvement Loop Design Process (ILP) when the Prototypes are being presented to and tested with the relevant audience.

Prototype Fidelity

The fidelity of Prototypes depends on which stage of the journey the designer is in. During the User Interface Design stage, the Design Artifacts produced are mostly Wireframes. By nature, Wireframes could effectively demonstrate the user interface and content of the product. Testing for the usability using Wireframes must be focused on tasks.

Stages Artifacts Prototype Fidelity Test Criteria
Delivery User Interface Design (UID) Wireframes, Interaction Diagram Low Level 1, Low Level 2 Usability, Content
Visual Design (VisD) Mockups High Level 1, High Level 2 Usability, Presentation

Prototype Interactivity

The interactivity of Prototypes depends on what the designer is testing – is it the design’s navigation? Is it the design’s task flow? Is it the design’s usability? Is it the design’s content and layout? Is it the design’s visuals in relation to branding? Some of these test criteria warrant an interactive prototype to be able to replicate the actual experience of using the product.

Stages Artifacts Prototype Interactivity Test Criteria
Delivery User Interface Design (UID) Wireframes, Interaction Diagram Static, Interactive Usability, Content
Visual Design (VisD) Mockups Static, Interactive Usability, Presentation

During Design Sessions, there are notable differences between using prototypes and the semi-functional product in its staging environment. The latter provides the audience a realistic experience that, in turn, could enable them to provide more meaningful feedback.

Making a prototype interactive–with swipeable screens and clickable elements–require additional resources for development. The designer has to balance the expected value the testing of an interactive prototype will bring and the time it will take to accomplish and revise it.