What is a prototype? Definitions & other basics

We keep saying this word - but what does it mean? Prototypes, prototyping, fidelity? Learn all of the key terms ahead of the session here!

Be sure to register and join us on March 21st for the full workshop!

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What is prototyping/ prototypes?

Prototyping is the iterative process of developing your idea by giving it some shape, form or visualisation. In simple words, they are rough versions of your solution idea that enables users to get a feel of your solution, experience it first hand and give you genuine reactions and suggestions rather than an abstract intellectual feedback.

Their interactions and reactions can be observed and can provide you with incredible, useful insights.

It will help you find out:

  1. If you are solving the right problem.
  2. How well the solution you are proposing will address that problem.
  3. What features are working and what’s not working for the users.

What are low fidelity and high fidelity prototypes?

Prototypes don’t necessarily look like final products — they can have different fidelity. The fidelity of a prototype refers to how it conveys the look-and-feel of the final product (basically, its level of detail and realism).

Low-fidelity (lo-fi) prototyping is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to translate high-level design concepts into tangible and testable artefacts. Teams create these in the initial phase of prototyping and idea development where the intention is to check and test the concept and functionality of the solution with the users rather than the visual appearance of the product.

High-fidelity (hi-fi) prototypes appear and function as similar as possible to the final product/solution. Teams usually create high-fidelity prototypes when they have a solid understanding of what they are going to build and they need to either test it with real users or get final-design approval from stakeholders.


What are the pain-points with prototyping?

Some common pain-points with prototyping are:

  1. Deciding the right prototyping method (or form): Several methods can be used for prototypes like sketching, storyboarding, 3d modelling, digital prototyping, role-play etc. It can be difficult to choose the most appropriate method that is going to give the best experience and understanding of your solution to the user.

  2. Unclear design objectives: Prototyping can become an aimless activity without clear design objectives. The design team may get caught up in experimenting with different ideas without a clear direction or goal in mind.

  3. Inadequate user representation: It can be challenging to find the right users to test the prototype, especially if the product is intended for a niche market or a hard-to-reach user group. Testing with the wrong users can lead to misleading feedback and ineffective design decisions.

  4. Inadequate feedback: Feedback from users is critical to the prototyping process, but it can be challenging to get meaningful feedback from users. Users may not have the expertise to provide actionable feedback or may be unwilling to criticise the prototype.

  5. Time and resources: Prototyping and testing can seem time-consuming and require significant resources, both in terms of materials and personnel. However, it is important to overcome this challenge by creating low-fidelity prototypes and testing them with limited but extreme users.


Thank you for sharing. I really learn a lot from the session.

Hi @oende84! So glad you enjoyed the session and found it useful! :grinning:

Thank you so much. Prototyping made easy by our resource person. When are we getting the materials?

The slide deck and recording have been shared in this thread:

And we’ll also share them in a follow-up email sometime this week!