What is a prototype?

A prototype is a rudimentary, unfinished, working simulation or sample of an offering created to test the feasibility of a concept or process before investing in mass production. It is a tangible model of a team’s solutions to problems already defined and discussed by designers in the ideation phase, and allows them to test the product value, proposition, and quality. There are several different types of prototypes:

  • Low fidelity: sketches or paper versions
  • Wireframes: digital prototypes, often in black and white, which illustrate user flows or information architecture
  • Hi fidelity: almost represent the final product, without the finishing touches

When does prototyping occur?

Prototyping usually occurs after the ideation phase. Teams translate their concepts into a usable form to get early feedback from users and key stakeholders.

What makes a good prototype?

A good prototype represents how the product will look or work. The more precise it is, the richer the feedback. It should perform the basic functions of the actual product. It can be created and adapted with minimum effort, as you will likely iterate it multiple times.

Why are prototypes important in innovation?

Prototyping is important in innovation because it puts a tangible solution in the hands of your end-user to see how they will interact with your product and how you should adjust your solution. Prototypes save cost and reduce risk by allowing teams to validate an idea, and specific features and functionality without building an entire product.

What is rapid prototyping?

Rapid prototyping is the fast production of prototypes for ongoing testing. Prototypes are created in a short period of time, in a streamlined way based on real-time feedback.