UX prototypes are a valuable way to gain transparency between designers, developers, clients and their customers, at all stages of a digital product’s life cycle. We take a deeper look at what they are, why to use them and how to create them.
What are UX Prototypes?
Put simply they are mockups of digital product ideas that can be tested and shared. They can be Lo-Fi prototypes that are quick and easy to produce using paper or digital prototyping tools. These allow you to test ideas and share them with your team quickly. Or they can be Hi-Fi to test both functionality and the visual look and feel. This is a good way to make sure everyone is happy with your design before you commit to development.
Why are Prototypes so valuable?
They improve communication and transparency within your team and allow you to get feedback early in the project so you can refine and improve your designs.
Usability issues can be discovered straight away including any issues with your user flow and functionality.
They can be tested with real users to gain valuable feedback and insights. Either in smaller qualitative testing or larger quantitative testing, or both.
Saving time and money
Overall they save time and money in the long run by making sure you are creating the right product with the right features and building it in the right way.
How to create them
To make a prototype, choose the right tool for the job. Consider how complex you need the prototypes to be, versus how much time you have to build. And don’t forget the time it takes to learn new tools. Tools such as Figma, Invision and Adobe XD are popular for less complex designs.
Some designs require more complex prototypes in order to test multiple user flows with more realistic input and feedback. It’s better to try and break your designs at this stage rather than during development. Tools such as Protopie are a great solution for when detailed functionality needs to be tested.
Sometimes building a ‘dirty’ prototype is required, where a developer will code up a working prototype without any UI styling. This is useful for when you need to use a real database and test algorithms are working.
Whichever route you go down with prototypes, they are worth their weight in gold and are an important part of the UX Design Process. You will ultimately build a better product, improve it more often in its life cycle, and have happier teams, clients and most importantly customers.