Imagine you have to validate your idea quickly. Or you need to detect and fix flaws in your product concept put you don’t have much time. Or you need a quick problem-solving method. All these needs can be easily satisfied with rapid prototyping. If you’re not quite sure what it is or how rapid prototyping is used in UX, buckle up — we will guide you through the essentials.
In case you wonder what rapid prototyping is and how it’s used in UX and when, it’s a great choice as prototype helps in validating ideas quickly. It allows designers to test the product with users and fix its flaws, before creating an actual product, so that the “real one” will perform flawlessly. This opens a lot of possibilities for creating a great digital product. Here are the reasons why you need rapid prototyping in UX for your product design.
Any idea is a risk, especially if it’s something innovative that nobody has done before. Therefore, you can’t spend too much time and budget on validating it, otherwise, you risk losing too much. Therefore, it will cost less to make mistakes in your design.
Moreover, rapid prototyping for UX allows you to fix multiple problems that can be avoided before the product launch. So, you won’t feel regret that you haven’t found these issues beforehand.
Rapid prototyping allows you to test your ideas by detecting and fixing the issues at an amazing speed. It lets you create “fake” or “test” versions of your product quickly to understand what works and what doesn’t.
Also, you can try the PR2I Process. This is a type of prototyping process with rapid iteration that results in the product that will have the most value for the final user. It is a cyclical method where you move through each stage. And when you reach the final one, you return to the beginning. You repeat this procedure until you have the result you’re satisfied with.
To test your idea out with users, first, you need to validate it in the eyes of your design team and stakeholders involved in the project. Rapid prototyping for user experience gives you a visual representation of your idea, so it’s easier for you to explain it and to get a variety of feedback and suggestions. It also allows you to get a fresh perspective on your ideas and detect their weak sides.
In this way, you’ll be able to get the team and stakeholders on the same page. This will improve communication between them and foster better collaboration.
Last but not least, rapid prototyping in UX makes you act fast and therefore think fast. In these conditions, you can come up with the most innovative and interesting ideas that can take your product to another level.
By thinking out of the box you’ll be able to find solutions to the problems your product must solve within the more rigid time limit. Moreover, fresh and original ideas are great assets to beat the competition and offer users something unconventional, yet highly functional.
So, after we’ve established what rapid prototyping is used in design for and how you can benefit from it, it’s time to learn about the rapid prototyping process. In comparison to some other steps of UX design, rapid prototyping is quite simple and requires less time to prepare and less budget to perform.
How rapid prototyping in UX works?
The secret why rapid prototype consumes less time and budget is because it’ll rarely turn into a fully-fledged product. When you create a rapid prototype for your product design, you focus only on individual elements that you want to improve or introduce. In this way, you can visualize the UX elements of your final product. Therefore, you need to:
1. Define what needs to be prototyped. There are two ways: either you want to prototype core functionality or feature, or to test new interaction and patterns. Both are perfect for rapid prototyping, just remember to keep your focus solely on the elements you choose to prototype.
2. Identify what place these elements take in the customer’s journey with your product. Even for a rapid prototype you still need to conduct quick user research to understand what you’re standing on. Also, you need to understand how users interact with, for example, the new feature you want to add. This will guide you to how you need to prototype your idea.
You can create your rapid prototype at any stage of the design process. Also, you can start with a mock-up or even a simple sketch. The main rule is to always remember the user and your client’s requirements.
After you’ve created your prototype comes the essential part that will help to validate your ideas and vision – testing it with real users. But before you jump straight to that, hear out what your teammates and stakeholders have to say about your prototype. If they approve it, then you can proceed to user testing. Also, you need to make sure that stakeholders are satisfied with the changes you’ve introduced to the future product.
Moreover, you need to detailly document all the comments and feedback from all the testing participants. The comments from everyone – your teammates, stakeholders, and finally users are the essential assets for your product improvement.
Remember we told you that rapid prototyping is a cyclical process? Well, after you receive that valuable feedback, you’ll be able to move on with your iteration to create the next prototype until you’ll have the ready-to-launch product. You need to analyze all the remarks and create a list of things that have to be improved.
After a series of iterations, when everyone is happy with the final version of the product, your job here is done and you can move on to the next stage. And this is how the magic of rapid prototyping in UX works.
You can introduce iterations quickly – within an hour or days – and if your idea won’t pass, you won’t have hard feelings. You can easily replace it with another as you didn’t have to put too much effort into it.
There are several techniques you can use to create your rapid prototype or just follow your routine. We’ve already mentioned the RP2I process for rapid prototyping. In addition to that, you can try these techniques:
Or simply follow these techniques:
For the effective creation of rapid prototypes, you need the right tools. We gathered the ones that will help you express your ideas in the best way. Here are the tools to create a rapid prototype in UX:
This tool will help you to rapidly mockup your idea without going in-depth with your design, to see if your idea might work. Sketch offers a shared cloud space where anyone from your team can access your prototype. Moreover, you can move on with high-fidelity versions to other apps to continue designing your prototype or jump straight to development without any additional tools.
Basically, Adobe XB has everything that you need for creating your rapid prototype. This tool is very easy to use as it already has a “Prototype” mode where you can also link your previously designed screens for transition. You can manage both your designing and prototyping just with one app. Adobe XD will help you to create wireframes, mock-ups, screen layouts, or even fully interactive prototypes.
If you prefer, with Adobe Photoshop you can first create design elements for your prototype separately and then link them with another tool.
This tool will help you to create a click-through prototype and advanced animation in one app, regardless of whether you are designing a website or mobile app. The way to do this is to upload the high-fidelity designs created in Photoshop or elsewhere and start creating hotspots to link them together into a prototype. This will allow you to create a high-fidelity prototype just in a few minutes.
This is another great tool for creating rapid prototypes. The tool also offers many useful features and several UI elements you can choose from. You can also give different gestures and transitions between screens for creating an enhanced user experience with mobile apps.
Rapid prototyping is a great way to come up with fresh ideas and receive immediate feedback. It saves you a ton of time and resources and helps to focus on the features you want to introduce and iterate. There are multiple tools you can choose from to create your design prototype in a couple of minutes. The rapid prototyping routine is very simple and not difficult to follow but can bring you great results and the most unexpected solutions.
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