Saturday, June 2, 2012

Prototypes Are Your Gateway to Effective Design

If you want it to be used, to be safe and to be the industry’s next top model, then you have got to prototype.

When people started to build things, just that time when the idea sparkles, products were build one shot. The designer will imagine it, sleep on it and build it and then show it off to the world. But then what a tremendous shock if no one liked it! No one used it! What a waste of time, effort and money? Right?

Prototypes will save the day. You are not accustomed to the final design just yet.

So, what are prototypes really? 
  • Prototypes are ideas, lots of ideas.
  • Prototypes are incomplete.
  • Prototypes are easily changed.
  • Prototypes retire. They are never final!
  • Prototypes help you imagine.
  • Prototypes glimpse you on how it will feel like.
  • Prototypes will show you how it will really work like.
  • Prototypes walk you through how it might be experienced.
  • Prototypes help you know how your unknown knowns will be like or in other words what you are troubled will go wrong be like.
  • Prototypes will make you discover unknown unknowns or the possibilities you never knew existed.

But then, how could you come up with a prototype?

Don’t get stuck in that first glimpse of an idea. Sure, you initial imagination might feel great, but that’s not the point. You have got to first put on the table what you want to do with the design. 
  • First Step: Figure out what you want to do with this design.
  • Second Step: Have ideas, lots of ideas.
  • Third Step: Determine what you want to prototype. Do you want to prototype how it feels? What it does? How will it be experienced? How it looks?
  • Fourth Step: Test and try, try again.
  • Fifth Step: Test more. Try more.
  • Sixth Step: You have found a design that you like. Don’t settle yet. Tweak it a bit. Be weird. Try something out of the blue.
  • Seventh Step: Show, show and show. Get ideas from others. Get feedback.
  • Eighth Step: Enhance some more.
  • Ninth Step: And so it goes till you reach your goal.

Who are you going to show off to those prototypes?

Well, that depends on what are you going to accomplish with your end product. It could be 
  • Users
  • Clients
  • Your Team
  • Other Teams
  • Or maybe yourself?

Why again do we do it?

You got to have some feedback. Don’t ever lose sight of that. It is about feedback. It is about communication. It will enhance your innovation, collaboration, creativity and the design.

But, wouldn’t it take longer to come up with prototypes than just build it and get it over with?

It’s not about just finishing the task at hand. It is about good design. It is about safety, efficiency, effectiveness and productivity. Still, you have to be careful with your time. You see, over time you need to take note of some issues. 
  • At the start you will have broad ideas. You could be determining whether it is going to fly or just be on wheels? Towards the end you will look more into details. What color should it be?
  • At the start you want to learn more, much more, because at the end it will cost much much more to learn as much.
  • At the start it will cost less to make a change.
  • At the start you can easily adapt your users to a new system. At the end, they are just accustomed and in their comfort zone. Remember how much people freak out and hate the Facebook new interfaces? Yes, that’s right. You don’t want to upset your users. Do you?

Last but not least, remember this: 
  • Prototypes are incomplete.
  • Prototypes are ideas and lots of questions.
  • Prototypes are for feedback not for the final artifact.
Image Credits to: graur codrin

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