Prototype design in user experience is one of the most important and practical skills that every user experience specialist should have the necessary skills in.
Of course, this work, like other areas, has its own problems and risks. It doesn’t matter how much your company cares about the prototype, the fact is that this process can lead to the success or failure of your final product.
A prototype design in user experience is not enough; We need to know the methods of producing a product from its initial design. In this article, we examine all aspects of this process.
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What is the purpose of prototyping in user experience?
Man is a visual being. In fact, 30% of the brain membrane is used for the sense of sight. As a result, when you see a prototype, the most important thing that happened is that you saw it! Once the customer sees your prototype and understands the process involved, especially the parts that will be needed later, your prototype is ready to use.
So what is user experience prototyping? User experience prototyping is a tool to show the visual appearance of your work. In fact, the prototype (at any stage of the work) is a visual, practical and usable representation of all the work done before it. This visual representation shows what your product does at each stage, what its active ingredients are, and how the product is used in the real world.
Although there are many mechanisms for different aspects of prototyping design in the user experience, such as drawing the design, the possibility of forgetting details and making mistakes in the design is always with you. This issue makes how to design a prototype in the user experience extremely valuable, because it shows how your product works in different ways. Not completely, and certainly not exactly in most cases, the name prototype indicates that this product is not the final product.
A prototype is a simple way to think about a prototype and examine it as a mechanism for action. Section-by-section definition of the method of operation has important benefits such as the following:
1) It makes work real
Before the prototype is built, the final product is a completely abstract matter! This is acceptable for a short time, but eventually the idea must become something that can be understood and accepted by stakeholders and customers. The prototype is the first step to turn the idea into reality.
2) Solving the problem
Sometimes, we can design a challenge that has no solution. As a skill, user experience prototyping is the best way to visualize a problem and quickly find its solution. If that doesn’t work, discard the prototype and try again.
Designing a prototype has different steps, but the result is always the same: the evolution of your ideas. From sketching to fully executing the design, each time you repeat the process, you’ll see a new perspective of the behaviors and performance of the tests performed. With more data, we can iterate faster and smarter.
4) Finding unwanted events
When you visualize the work, you see the limitations of the research, it gives you a better view of what it should be and what it shouldn’t be.
5) Finding user problems
This is a theme that many designers use: when your product has a prototype, usability challenges are easier to find and fix.
Prototypes at any stage are a standard way of rendering. Whether you’re testing a version of a page or pitching a product to a customer, having a prototype is better than none. If not, be sure they ask you where the prototype is and why you didn’t get it.
How to start the prototyping process in user experience?
After receiving a 50-page file of a client’s requirements, looking at the drawing board is daunting. Rereading what the client said in the meeting, simple and basic designs and pictures drawn on the whiteboard will rarely help you.
Because prototypes are made based on other information, and it is very important to collect the necessary details first, instead of drawing a sketch. Consider the following checklist and double-check the details provided by the customer or manager. Also, be sure to ask the customer these questions and record their specific answer:
What are the goals of the project?
Start with an overview. Does the product solve a real problem? How does it solve that problem? Understanding product performance is critical to delivering any solution.
Which competing products are people currently using?
A strong competitor analysis gives a clear picture of what is happening in the market for your products as well as what users need.
Who is the audience? What are his goals?
Understanding the demographic distribution and needs of the audience will give you a great idea of what your product should offer to each personality type of users and satisfy their needs.
What is the type of your product and what (device) is it used for?
With the different types of technologies and solutions that exist, the user experience designer must know how to use the product (web software, responsive website, mobile software, etc.). He should also know the device or devices that run it and be aware of how different versions of the product work.
Is there a specific visual example to follow?
If the product already exists and the project intends to improve or redesign it, it is possible to identify some prerequisites by examining the behavior of users with the current product.
What is presented to the user?
Setting exceptions for processes and items presented to users is a critical element in planning and workflow. Every project is different, but if the deliverables are defined correctly, other areas of user experience design are more likely to progress faster.
Draw your prototype
After collecting and categorizing the data, the next step is to start designing. Many designers at this stage and before even drawing a design on paper, have considered ideas for design, arrangement and even the exact location of elements in the visual design. This is acceptable but the purpose of the initial design will be to find the space available to find out what is possible and more importantly what is not possible.
Gather your writing supplies, whether it’s pencils and paper or markers and a whiteboard. The design process is like a writer’s drafts and a composer’s notes. Feel free to build on what you’ve done before and keep the following in mind:
Follow the user’s workflow. Check how users access the goals and interact with the system.
Each user workflow provides information about user inputs and outputs. Identify these items, find out how they relate to user behavior and expectations, examine the nature of their interactions, and determine how they work.
After getting to know those who use your system, what they want to do and provide them with the tools they need; It’s time to check out how it works. Design user workflows. You don’t need to come up with a specific layout, just do something that solves their problem.
Design the basic structure
After pre-designing the user workflow, you will now have better ideas for finding the best product structure. This idea includes content (text, images, video, etc.) and will be displayed in boxes and basic sections. When you do this manually, the sizes are not exact, so the structure and content are only for qualitative display, not actual use.