UX & Design

Why Designers Need to Embrace Prototyping

29 Nov 2016, Chris Sanders

artboard2x

Don’t just read about products – interact with them!

How many times during a presentation do you hear the words “imagine if you will…” or “let’s read the documentation on how this works…” regarding designs, interactions or workflows for a project? The reality is, we all have a different way of imagining how something should work. The hard part is getting everyone involved focused on one clear direction. Prototyping cuts down the confusion and potential frustration by presenting UX in a way that allows team members and clients to interact with the designs.

Three Tiers of Prototyping

I always think of prototyping in the following three big stages.

1 Ideation

Never underestimate the power of playing to flush out bad ideas and let new and better ones come to life. This is a great time for UX and visual designers to collaborate on challenging interaction models and flows. This is also the time to make sure those business requirements from the key stakeholders are still holding true.

2 Testing

Just because you can build it doesn’t make it right, the goal is solutions. Delivering a working concept into the hands of clients or teams can quickly verify whether you’ve solved a problem. This is where the real value of prototyping lies but it doesn’t happen by magic. It requires a special skillset, the right tools and, most importantly, the right process.

Here are a few things we’re always asking ourselves when making selections for tools or processes:

  • Can this be used for testing?
  • What is the level of learning curve?
  • Will it output as needed?
  • Does it play nice with other tools in our workflow?

3 Demos & Documentation

When dealing with stakeholders and clients who need to raise investment dollars or get sign-off internally from their managers, demos are the best thing since sliced bread. Nothing is more exciting than coming in with a demo you know has sign-off from your team, that’s been tested and is something that comes close to the final product.

But prototypes aren’t just for final demos or splashy case studies, they also become a source of truth. Having a prototype for documentation increases the chances that those key interactions and flows, which often give a brand its digital personality, won’t get lost in translation when going into development.

Make it Happen

So for your next design project I would encourage you to involve some degree of prototyping into your workflow. Remember the closer you can bring your ideas to life, the easier it is to make them a reality.