In this blog, we will shed light on the "Prototype" step of Design Thinking the various methods involved. We will be discussing the importance of Solutions to the Problems previously discussed in the Define stage, and we'll be discussing the various methods in which Prototyping is important in Design Thinking and Design Sprints.
A prototype is a simple depiction or model of a proposed solution used to test or validate ideas, design assumptions and other aspects of its conceptualisation quickly and cheaply. The designer involved can make appropriate refinements or possible changes in thinking. Simply speaking, prototypes are just tangible forms of the designer's ideas and thought process. They are often far from being the end product.
Prototyping is about bringing conceptual or theoretical ideas to life and exploring their real-world impact before executing them. This ensures that proper research and validation are carried out to bring out a perfect solution, without any wastage of resources and time, by directly creating the final product.
Prototype - Why?
Research conducted during the early stages of your Design Thinking project often does not tell you everything you need to know to create the optimal solution. More often than not, designers tend to become fixated on the research conducted in the earlier phases of exploration, creating a bias towards their ideas. Hence, prototyping and then testing the prototypes, you can reveal assumptions and biases you have towards your ideas and discover valuable insights about your users, which can then improve your solutions.
Prototype - Types
Prototyping methods are generally divided into two separate categories: low- and high-fidelity prototyping.
Low-Fidelity Prototyping -
Low-fidelity prototyping is described as using basic models or examples of the product being tested. They are quick and cheap, and several iterations of solutions can be made instantly.
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High-Fidelity Prototyping -
High-fidelity prototypes are prototypes that look and operate closer to the finished product. As a result, they are highly engaging as they give a vision to the stakeholders of the finished product. The closer the prototype is to the finished product, the more confidence the design team will have in how the users will interact with and perceive the design.
Prototype - How
Prototypes are supposed to be quick and easy tests of the final solutions, so ensure that you do not overcomplicate the process. The following steps should be kept in mind while Prototyping:
1. Start Creating without wasting too much time on the thinking process.
2. Efficiency is key, as too much time spent can make you overly attached to your design, hence closing doors on changes or improvements.
3. Do not forget the purpose of your end product, as designers often tend to get swayed and lost in their design.
4. The User comes first, so your product must be properly suited to the user’s needs.
Prototyping is an essential step in the Design Thinking, "thinking by doing" methodology. Proteins can be used as a method for Ideation, too, as it enables the designer and the user to consider different solutions or methods.
Some of the purposes that prototypes fulfil are:
1. Explore and Experiment
2. Understand and Learn
3. Engage Test and Experience
4. Inspire and Motivate
Prototyping is an extremely valuable step in the design thinking process. Design Thinking is all about generating ideas, testing them, and prototype as and when you need to. The lack of linearity in Design Thinking allows for a Prototype to be created at any point in time, thus contributing to the "thinking by doing" methodology. The prototype is now ready to be tested by real users to obtain feedback and make tweaks in the Design for changes and improvements.