Prototyping is the process of mocking a system before actually developing it. Prototypes are very helpful in getting feedback from users and testers, as making changes to them is much easier than making changes to software once it has been developed.
Rapid prototyping is the name given to the process when the prototypes are developed very fast, with very low-fidelity and then iterated many times to arrive at high-fidelity prototypes. A rapid iteration cycle ensures that the final prototypes factor in as many feedback points as possible.
What are the steps of a rapid prototyping cycle?
The rapid prototyping cycle consists of three phases.
- Prototype: This phase involves creating a prototype with just a bit more fidelity than the last iteration, starting at the lowest fidelity and working your way up.
- Review: Target audiences and test groups should review the prototype to identify issues and improvements by comparing it against their requirements.
- Refine: Incorporate feedback from the Review phase into the prototypes, and raise the fidelity level by a notch, for example, from pencil sketches to Figma illustrations.
With several iterations of the cycle, the prototype becomes very user-friendly while also reaching the desired level of fidelity to be converted into the actual product.
What are the types of prototypes?
Prototypes can be classified based on several criteria. Some of the common prototypes are
- UI prototypes focus on the visual aspect of the product such as the interface and the branding. Figma is a good tool for visual prototyping.
- Functional prototypes focus on the functional aspects of the software such as navigation and features. A good tool for functional prototyping is inVision.
- Content prototypes focus on the text, images, videos, screenshots, and other forms of media related to the product. Google Docs and Drive facilitate collaboration on this front.