(Board of Innovation, 2014)
Prototyping is a way of designers viewing how their product will work before taking the project all the way to the final outcome as well as allowing them to gauge how a client or end user will react to a product in the early stages of the design process. (Gube, J, 2013)
To outline some quick advantages of Prototyping –
– Helps find design issues early: When designing a product a designer can quite easily visualise and set themselves on an end product without taking necessary time to think carefully about balancing this with user requirements and the function behind the form, this can lead to an end product which does not fit the brief and result in large changes from the client, meaning extra time spent on the project to rectify these issues.
– Iterate designs more quickly: Prototyping can take the form of a hand drawn design on paper for a designer to reflect upon changes and the project, when designing something like an app a designer could draw out the design in minutes to observe how it would function whereas to make the concept in the app development software would take hours only for the designer to observe the same issues.
– Compare Design Variations Quickly: When designing a user interface a designer should look to make the experience the best it can possibly be for the user, an optimum between form and function. As mentioned previously, drawing designs saves time and allows designers to viewmultiple designs quickly and without hassle for them to quickly compare them to decide how to best progress with the design of the product, by prototyping this process can be made much more efficient than following multiple designs through the whole design process.
– Optional Presentation Tool: Though there is some debate here, I believe that when executed correctly accurate prototypes can still save time and allow a designer to explain an idea whether it be to the client, managers, colleagues or other professionals working on the project. Prototyping gives the designer a visual aid in explaining their rationale behind ideas which can be of great use.
– Be able to perform user testing early in the design process: Prototyping, as mentioned in the introductory paragraph allows a designer to conduct user testing on a product with the client/s and users before revealing the final design, allowing them to ensure any issues the client/s may have with the product can be rectified as some issues may be harder to fix and more time consuming for the designer to fix the further down the design process they go, therefore prototyping can act as a continuous safety net throughout the design process allowing designers to gain regular feedback from clients in order to ensure the final design is tailored better to the requirements of the client and users.
– Prototypes help simplify complex ideas: In a scenario such as a designer creating a responsive website this requires several designs due to the differing sizes of each device the website would be viewed on it would be beneficial to draw prototypes of designs to achieve and compare different layouts before completing the design process, simple digital prototypes can help designers to quickly see how elements in web pages will fit together when resized and if the iteration is applicable.
References: Gube, J, 2013. Why Prototyping is Essential to your Design Process. Design Instruct, 15 January 2013, Available from: designinstruct.com/web-design/prototyping-is-essential/ [Accessed 17 November 2014].
Board of Innovation, 2014. Resources and Tools for Paper Prototyping. Available from: http://www.boardofinnovation.com/resources-tools-for-paper-prototyping/ [Accessed 17 November 2014].