Prototypes must deliver value. It is the thinking that is the valuable part not the overall execution or the tool.
Too often discussions get bogged in down in discussions about what is the best tool to use. The tool used for prototyping is just a canvas. A good painting doesn’t take longer to produce than a bad painting. It is the thinking that goes into it. Not how it is done.
Prototypes are visionary and need to capture the art of the possible.
Rapid Design Visualisation is emergent. The solution will emerge over time, evolving to fulfil new requirements and take advantage of newer technologies and methods as appropriate. Some initial modelling is done at the very beginning of a project during “iteration 0”. This can be part of a white boarding or brainstorming stage. This will be just enough to visualise ‘the concept’ to stimulate discussions and provide a talking point. This gives everyone on the team more clarity and less room to misinterpret as you can see it, touch and play with it. It is interactive and mimics the behaviour of the final solution.
Prototypes maybe needed at any point in the project life-cycle. They end when it is “Good Enough For Now”.
Creating a prototype version of ‘the vision of the future’ may help get funding or a project kicked off. Later it may evolve into a final GUI design with pixel perfect artifacts and a working model for the actual code base. At every stage there are artifacts that can be used or reiterated. If it is custom software that is created then any new icons may need to be created pixel perfect in order to validate usability, for example.
It could start out as one thing and evolve into something else. Prototypes designed in Axure or iRise can be canabilised and re-used. The prototype itself could be kept and used for training or modelling the next generation of the systems features.
Modelled a little bit ahead and what it necessary.
Don’t need to model what you know will already work. It is not about making a full scale working model.
If you are designing a car around a new engine to improve performance you wouldn’t want to wast time discussing whether the wheels should still be round. Just say there will be wheels and leave it at that.
Maybe just what it will look like (static model). Maybe not at all. Maybe it is just one problem you want to model so you can asses and test various options. Coding multiple solutions is impractical.
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