One of the best ways to gain insights in a Design Thinking process is to carry out some form of prototyping. This method involves producing an early, inexpensive, and scaled down version of the product in order to reveal any problems with the current design. Prototyping offers designers the opportunity to bring their ideas to life, test the practicability of the current design, and to potentially investigate how a sample of users think and feel about a product.
Paper prototyping is a widely used method in the user-centered design process and allows for testing user interfaces. It is throwaway prototyping and involves creating rough, even hand-sketched, drawings of an interface to use as prototypes, or models, of a design.
While paper prototyping seems simple, this method of usability testing can provide a great deal of useful feedback which will result in the design of better products. This is supported by many usability professionals.
The example below shows high-fidelity paper prototypes of the Every Body Walk! Apple Watch app. The screens shown above were printed to test proportions, placement of tappable icons and to test flow. The MCoE had limited info on Watch specs since it was not available on the market yet. Paper prototyping in this instance proved to be a very valuable solution.
Interactions and animations are key elements of interactive prototyping. There is more of a learning curve associated with interactive prototyping when compared to paper prototyping.
Interactive prototyping, when designed in a high-fidelity fashion, can yield designs that are very close to the finished product as possible and provide the designers with very valuable feedback when used for user testing purposes. Interactive prototyping offers the designer the ability to create interactions, custom animations, screen states, scrollable containers, and container states. It also enables the designer to implement auto-play video clips, advanced logic, and toggled visibility. Interactive prototypes also offer the designers stronger collaboration potential with the developers as they can review flows, animations and transitions with more precision. The example below shows a high-fidelity interactive prototype constructed using the proto.io application.
Continue to the Test section to learn more about the Design Thinking process.