What is a prototype?
A prototype is a tool for testing ideas, assumptions and customer segments that allows for quick iteration. You can use paper, PowerPoint, HTML and CSS or one of the many tools you can find online. You will need to experiment to find the best one for your team.
Once validated, the prototype serves as the vision for the product that helps everyone from a sales person to an engineering get what we are trying to achieve.
What a prototype isn’t
- Fully designed
The notion that prototype code is not reuse-able causes consternation. A prototype is like a movie set, we do just enough to make it believable and really easy to change when the director needs something different. Behind the set it’s ugly and unfinished. The idea is what makes a prototype valuable, not the code.
What’s wrong with wireframes?
Presenting a wifreframe requires the skills of an experienced storyteller. When the storyteller isn’t there, the message gets lost and a understanding gap emerges and sometimes that gap is more of a chasm. But it can take weeks before anyone realizes that the gap exists. A clickable prototype closes that gap by controlling the options
Mocks are time consuming to make and change but they are great for helping manage concerns about fidelity. Make most of your screens low fidelity and one high fidelity one so clients can trust that the final product will have the polish they want.
Image: I created this with the tape I used to mask a painting. It turned out much better than the painting.