Traditionally the term ‘Rapid Prototyping’ has been associated with the commercial fabrication of physical objects before they are sent on for mass production. The model caught on, and proliferated from the hardware to software side of things in the 1990’s. Nowadays almost all custom software goes through some variation of Rapid Prototyping before it is fully vetted and sent to development production.
Rapid prototyping is an important part of User Experience Design. In today’s agile environment we are interested in getting our hands dirty. We’re seeking quick wins with a new user flow or pattern to iterate on top of and enhance the overall application. Yet at the same time, it’s also important to fail. When we fail, we want to do it fast. The benefit here is learning quickly and taking road blocks out of an application’s build.
Implement – Get your ideas onto paper, or into a software of your choice.
Review – Find your stakeholders and discuss the work. (Under 5 to 10 minutes works best!)
Iterate – With the feedback make changes, and repeat the process until done.
Choose a Fidelity
Low – Pencil Sketches work just fine when you want to move super fast.
Medium – If you have the software and the time, you can create some nice looking greyscale boxes that often serve as just the right amount of detail needed for progress.
High – Photoshop, Sketch, and other design softwares can provide the pixel perfect solutions that are the closest we can get to the final product without actually starting a line of code.
Choose a Software
The Old Guard:
The New Guard:
Remember! Rapid = Fast
Five minutes should be the ideal length for review before making actionable changes. There may be varying levels of complexity attached to your level of fidelity selected, but for the most part speed is the name of the game. Implement, Review, and Iterate until you’ve completed the sprint!