Rapid Prototyping

Assigning tangibility to design through prototyping is a format generative process. We prototype to create and test volumes of those formats, make mistakes, learn from them, adapt and move on quickly by reducing waste and saving time.

Inherit capacity of rapid prototyping to replace requirements novels which are open to misinterpretation, which take a very long time to write, revise and “finalize”, which are often filled with non-essential requirements and features that will never see the light of day with something that the entire team can experience, work through, and use to test  assumptions is invaluable in rapidly moving forward.

Screenshots and wireframes interlaced with detailed interaction notes, may do a better job at show and tell than requirements can. However, aside from the fact that they are “throwaway” artifacts (will not be included in production) gaps are still left in experiencing and understanding the design. Cross-functional collaboration and ability to adapt rapidly is still very limited.

Objectives of creating a prototype are to primarily provide an exploratory framework, increase innovation and collaboration by jointly testing ideas, do away with unnecessary and wasteful processes.

Reducing waste through agility

Let’s do a brief process comparison between utilizing rapid prototyping and not as to review the efficiency of each approach.

In a traditional waterfall (linear) process, requirements are written, designs wireframed then mocked up with the visual (graphic) design applied, content matrices composed separately and then integrated,  then the development team composes a final product, and only then is everything validated, leading to a very cumbersome revision process. Whereas in the agile prototyping process the requirements may not only be directly reflected and validated but also come from testing  in early drafts, content may be developed in parallel with design and development can easily enhance and integrate as prototype evolves and validation may be conducted at any given time.
If coordinated successfully, rapid prototyping may result in zero waste allowing for the earliest sketch or draft to iterate all the way to the final product.

Diagram of the iterative design and critique process. Prototyping by Todd Zaki Warfel Rosenfeld Media, 2009;

Sketching with code

Using source code as a design medium I develop concepts which stakeholders and teams can actually interact with. That interaction provides numerous benefits such as flexibility and ability to experience and pivot assumptions early and often making revisions not a dreaded process which requires designers to update many different files but a welcomed enhancement which may be applied through changing one line of a stylesheet and then reflected across the entire solution.

Accuracy of requirement feasibility is also enhanced through connecting different screens, immediately recognizing potential pitfalls or previously unrealized considerations by being able to experience the flow of tasks as users will be completing them.

Validating through rapid prototyping

Together we take the prototype for a test drive so to experience and appraise our assumptions and then iterate further until we feel comfortable submitting our solution to users.

Having created and tested numerous concepts, we are confident that alignment against stated solution goals utilizes most viable ideas and by gathering user feedback more often and accurately we know the impact each decision will have before releasing the solution. We may also examine strengths a particular concept exemplifies, identify areas which require additional focus and refine as well as combine aspects of different concepts.

Level of prototyping detail

Low level of requirements may be recommended and sometimes crucial when developing a new solution. Stakeholders may just want to see how a particular initiative may be carried out to identify all the considerations.

We can communicate and identify the needs for establishing the fidelity level our prototype requires in considering the ability to communicate effectively with users, achieve maintainability of a modular and extendable framework and also meet any regulatory constraints.

Having implemented the information architecture of the the solution, only the necessary level of visual details and interactions may be used to enhance the solution and allow us to test it, find the best approach and move forward rapidly.

 

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If you have a project that will benefit from my experience contact me to discuss how I can add value to your team.