What it is

A rudimentary version of a product, either static or functional, that demonstrates realistic form and function.

Why this method

This enables direct examination of a design concept's viability using methods such as usability testing or a cognitive walkthrough. Static prototypes, often created using paper, can provide feedback on users' intentions and various design elements. Functional prototypes, often coded, can help observe how users interact with the product.

How to use

  1. Create a rudimentary version of your product, static or functional. Approach it in the same way as you would with a wireframe, focusing on demonstrating the structure and relationships between different elements except now concerning yourself with more stylized elements.
  2. Give the prototype to the user and observe their interactions without providing instructions.
  3. After observing the user's interactions, ask them to complete a specific task using the prototype.
  4. Ask clarifying questions about why the user is doing what they are doing. Use the user's behaviour to guide the questions you ask. It may be helpful to have them narrate their thought process as they go along.
  5. Iterate the prototype! Prototypes should be quick and easy to create, and even quicker and easier to discard. Use the feedback received to refine the prototype and improve its design, then repeat this process.