Prototyping Guides and Tools

Let’s dive a bit deeper into some prototyping guides and tools…

We're Jamming: Prototypes. Figure by GSJ HQ.

Guide: What do I actually prototype, when I make a prototype?

There are plenty of definitions of what is the content of a prototype out there. The following one is adapted from S. Houde and C. Hill’s thoughts in ‘What do Prototypes Prototype?’ —it’s a different view on prototypes than the usual categorisations, e.g. paper prototype, Flash prototype, high vs. low fidelity, high level of detail vs. low level of detail. It is more about the purpose of the prototype.

Value prototypes —trying to answer the question ‘What can this do for the customer?’ These prototypes…

  • describe the functionality that a user might benefit from;
  • clarify the core value proposition;
  • communicate and evaluate the value proposition.

Look’n Feel prototypes —trying to answer the questions ‘How does it look like? How does it feel?’ ‘Look’n Feels’…

  • simulate what it would be like to look at and interact with;
  • visualize the form, explore different look and feel possibilities;
  • give a concrete sense of what the future product or service will be like.

Implementation prototypes —trying to answer the questions ‘Is it possible to build it? Is it technically feasible?’ They…

  • answer technical questions about how a future artefact might actually be made to work;
  • demonstrate the technical feasibility;
  • get feedback from users on performance issues.

Integration prototypes —trying to bring it all together for the whole user experience in terms of value, look and feel, and implementation. These prototypes…

  • understand the design as a whole;
  • balance and resolve constraints;
  • get feedback on the overall design.

Guide: Prototyping comparison matrix

What is your team’s prototyping journey during a Jam? Use the prototyping comparison matrix to decide on and visualize the type and purpose of your prototypes at any stage during the Jam. When is the time to focus on presentation for people outside the team? When is the time to test?

We're Jamming: Prototyping comparison matrix. Figure by Christiano Siri, Rome Jams.

The journeys can be quite different depending on your Jam, project, skill level in the team or point in the design process you are in right now. 

Thanks to Jammer Christiano Siri, Rome Jams.


Tool: The Rough–to–Ready Framework

One simple way is to give participants clear goals telling them how many prototypes they need to create at which time during the Jam. Starting with many rough prototypes, then focus on a few to go deeper and eventually concentrate on one last one that gets pushed as far as possible.

We're Jamming: The Rough–to–Ready Framework. Figure by Chris Latterell, Stuttgart Jams.

Thanks to Jammer Chris Latterell, Stuttgart Jams.


Tool: The ‘Making Services Tangible’ Technique

  1. Ask every team to find 10 objects around the room.
  2. Ask them to build customer’s journey with the help of the objects. We should see the customer or user and the touchpoints she/he meets. Give the teams a few minutes.
  3. Ask everyone gather together. Go through every group. One explains the journey as a story—after each story other teams’ feedback.

Thanks to Jammer Aini Homma, Helsinki Jam.


You want to share prototyping guidance and best tools … share them please!

< Why Do We Prototype?    Use Your Jam Mentors Well >

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