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The prototyping process turns ideas into actionable items that can later be tested. In this lesson, you’ll learn more about the steps and best practices of creating models where end users can provide feedback.

Testing Designs

A design team in Smallville has spent the past few days brainstorming ideas for a new community center prototype. They must consider the wants and needs of the old center’s visitors and members of the town. The team thinks that they want to create a digital model for the community center that will enable testers to experience the center in a more truth-to-life application. But, is that the best way?

Members of the team have performed some research to help them navigate the prototyping process, or the creation of a model that allows for testing before the actual model is finalized. Here are some things they learned about walking through the prototyping process and best practices for creating effective prototypes.

Prototyping Steps

The first thing the team learned are the parameters they should use for building a prototype. Whether it’s drawn on paper, rendered on a computer screen, or printed in a 3D model, the prototype should be quickly produced, inexpensive, and a scaled-down version of the final application. Of course, with a community center, sketches or computer models are more realistic than building an actual prototype of a facility.

Next, the team discovered that it’s easy to get bogged down in the Ideate, or brainstorming, phase. Coming up with solutions usually presents many options and even uncertainties about which prototype is best. The key is to just plunge into the action and create one to three prototype ideas.

The team also learned not to get attached to prototypes, which is easier said than done with the more time you spend building them. Just like the first step, create a prototype that isn’t going to take a long time to develop so you aren’t tempted to become emotionally attached and lose your objectives for end user feedback.

Last, the team recognized that it was important to keep prototypes human-centered. It may be easy to create a product from the business’ point-of-view, but try to keep the consumers’ needs (which you learned about in the Empathize stage) at the center of your prototype designs.

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