Summary: Prototyping is a valuable sketching process for generating UX/UI. It saves you time, saves you confusion, and helps you visualize quickly and cheaply. Here are 50 reasons why prototyping is critical to do. These benefits point to the need to develop a company culture of prototyping.
Let’s start with the first ten reasons we prototype. But first, remember that wireframing or ‘rapid prototyping’ comes from solid Interaction Design.
1. Prototyping saves you meeting time: Without visual sketching, UI’s are discussed ad nauseum without a “shared picture”; you end up talking about a UI instead of ideating a new solution.
2. Sketching makes it easier to socialize. Quick sketches, no matter how crude, are great ways to communicate quickly.
3. Prototypes help imagine new solutions.
4. Ideas are easier to scrap, change, or re-consider with “low effort” prototypes.
5. Prototypes help you plan.
6. Prototypes help you test your design ideas with users.
7. Prototypes give a sense of realism to what’s really just an idea.
8. Prototypes can help a developer understand how it’s supposed to work.
9. Prototypes can help an end-user understand how it might work.
10. Prototypes let you see if edge cases are obnoxious or not.
40 more Reasons Prototyping Saves You Time
11. Prototyping reduces effort and bloat…
“In an experiment conducted at UCLA some development teams used conventional development methodologies while others employed prototypes in the software development process (with no particular emphasis on the interface). …Code of the final systems produced by prototyping groups was only about 40 percent as large as that of their counterparts, possibly at a cost in generality of design. Finally, the prototyping groups accomplished their task with 45 percent less effort than the other groups.” (Source: Hartson and Smith)
12. Prototyping helps you make changes more quickly and effectively.
13. Prototyping makes it easier to develop content since you know what content is needed where.
14. Prototypes reveal bugs and issues in your Information Architecture.
15. Prototypes reduce requests for clarification by developers by up to 80% (Source: Warfel).
16. Prototypes can show you how your design might look on mobile (responsive design planning is easier).
17. Prototyping lets you clarify features and functionality.
18. Prototyping gives you a chance to explore risks and explore opportunities.
19. Prototyping reveals bad design ideas.
20. Prototyping shows unfinished business logic or rules.
21. Prototyping acts like a UX/UI checklist to make sure you have thought things through.
22. Prototypes give insight into what may have been a good idea in a discussion but is actually clunky.
23. Prototypes show where details are missing.
24. Prototyping can make documentation more meaningful or can reduce or remove the need for detailed documentation.
25. Prototyping helps you tell the story (of the user journey).
26. Prototyping can help developers estimate build time and cost to be 50% more accurate (Source: Warfel).
27. Prototyping helps you sell the UI big ideas (to stakeholders).
28. Prototyping lets you flesh out new ideas without committing (provides “what-if” ing).
29. Prototyping gives product managers a better grasp of what is being proposed.
30. Prototypes reduce developer rework and bug fixes post-launch up to 25% (Source: Warfel).
31. Prototypes can help you map user flows.
32. Prototypes can reveal structural or major flaws.
33. Prototypes can give you a quick “litmus test” of an idea.
34. Prototypes can give a UX effort credibility rapidly.
35. Prototyping can reveal where users’ needs have been overlooked.
36. Prototyping can let you test many different options and flavors of a UI.
37. Prototypes can let you “spoof” complex interactions to test their validity.
38. Prototypes can help Agile teams estimate and plan Sprints or feature requests.
39. Prototyping lets you back out of expensive mistakes and errors with little impact.
40. Prototypes can excite a team about progress with a new design, redesign, or usability enhancement effort.
41. Prototypes can force a difficult conversation about complexity in the UI, business, or technology rules.
42. Prototyping can help prioritize design elements.
43. Prototyping can help involve and unify ideas and input across a company.
44. Prototypes can help examine the underlying interaction design without the bias of visual design.
45. Prototypes can speed up visual design by giving designers direction and structure.
46. Prototypes can spark a debate or validate a feature idea.
47. Prototypes can help explore technical issues or constraints.
48. Prototypes help inspire task-driven and scenario-driven design.
49. Prototypes let you inspect a design as if it were real.
50. Prototyping can turn around design decision-making in teams.
Toward Prototyping as a Company Culture
It is important to operationalize your prototyping. We recently provided our Interaction Design training to a large client who insisted that everyone (tens of thousands of employees) have access to prototyping software and use it to communicate design ideas. This gave them a light, fast, cheap, and effective process to aid design decisions. It stresses that a prototyping culture is necessary for effective UX Management.
Prototyping offers many benefits! It’s no wonder that UX prototyping tools are popular among teams. With prototyping your Interaction Design you can accurately visualize user pathways, flows and interactions needed to deliver good UX.
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