Five big benefits of Rapid Prototyping
Speed up your project success and get better designs faster with rapid prototyping.
By Alessia Romano
Rapid prototyping lets you quickly mock up a future state, validate it with stakeholders and iterate until you reach the ideal. We’ve all heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”; well if that’s true, then a prototype is worth millions.
Once the domain of engineers and manufacturers, a new breed of UX designers is bringing rapid prototyping to the mainstream. And the benefits are powerful. Faster, designs, better results, increased productivity and reduced costs.
Here are the top five benefits rapid prototyping can bring to your projects:
Creating an efficient communication flow is perhaps the biggest challenge of any project. The more people involved, the more fragmented communication can become. A live prototype changes this by communicating intent far better than static screens and piles of documentation. It lets everyone follow the design evolutions day-by-day, give immediate feedback and play around with all the functionalities and interactions. This helps reduce costly misinterpretations and prevent last minute changes. Product teams become more cohesive, productive and efficient, and engagement increases as everyone can focus on the success of the design.
Projects are rarely straightforward. Errors, uncertainties, variations and changes of mind are inevitable and necessary as they help you find out what works and what doesn’t. The important thing is to implement and share changes quickly and efficiently. This is where rapid prototyping comes in. Team members can adapt at speed, easily integrating changes and creating reusable structures, which takes the pain out of reiteration.
The beauty of prototyping techniques is that they can be applied to any project. For example, engineering to design, pure innovation to re-design, physical to digital (or both e.g. Arduino, Raspberry Pi etc). Prototypes can be low or high fidelity, from a simple set of screens to a pixel-perfect hyper-realistic prototype running on multiple devices. The level of detail depends on the complexity of the project and your budget.
4. Interactions and animations
Animations and interaction patterns help turn the complex into the understandable, which is crucial to digital usability and the design process. Every behavioural user expectation is shaped by an affordance, which Donald Norman defines as ‘perceived action possibilities’. In digital platforms, physical feedback is missing and must be “faked” in a way that looks natural to users. This makes the process even more challenging. Static screens are sometimes not enough, especially on interfaces that require a high number of gestures, like touch screen applications. Prototypes let designers create an exact pattern of animation and interactions for development teams to see live and reproduce without having to interpret intentions. This is indispensable for clear client demonstrations, which in turn simplifies decision-making.
Before laying down time and money it’s essential to carry out early and frequent testing with users. Rapid prototyping allows designers to create models that look and feel real to users and make it easy to gather feedback. But even before that it’s important for designers to see their ideas live, because what works on paper might not work in real life. Pre-testing the interface on the actual device and in the real context allows you to spot and correct errors at early stages.
The bottom line is that rapid prototyping can save you time, money and effort by getting you to where you want to be faster and more effectively. If you’re finding that your wireframes are only taking you so far, maybe it’s time to switch to rapid prototyping.
Check out these prototyping tools
Here are a few prototyping tools that we think are worth considering. While there are hundreds more out there, we’ve worked with a few of the ones below and we think they stand out from the crowd.
See what rapid prototyping could do for you
Want to find out how rapid prototyping can boost your business? Drop us a line and we’ll quickly demonstrate the power of prototyping.
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