Complete Guide to Prototyping in Design Thinking

Prototyping provides designers with a chance to improve their skills, share different perspectives and ideas with the team, and save time. It's very important to blow up your ideas and make them a reality before moving forward with development. Without prototyping, it's unlikely that you'll even think your idea is viable. This is why it's essential to incorporate prototyping into any process of product creation.

When launching a new product to market, it's important to make sure that it functions as intended and does what the targeted users want. To do this, you'll want to test your functionality before launching it in order to avoid wasting time and money.

Prototyping allows you to test your design (or changes) and determine whether or not they work the way you intended them to in a safe, controlled environment.

What Do You Understand by Prototyping?

A prototype is an ideal representation of a solution that you're trying to create. Examples include storyboards, stick−on notes to the wall, role−playing games, devices, spaces, or interfaces. It's important to hold your prototypes tightly for closer inspection and determine which project is the closest to being finished.

You should make a prototype that is simple, concise, and functional. By ensuring that your prototype is simple, people will be able to easily experience it and interact with it. When you see the prototypes from others in action, you can get an idea of what you can do to improve your design.

In order to test your idea and design before investing time, money, and energy into fully developing a product, consider using a prototype.

If you are designing a digital product, it can be helpful to develop a digital prototype of the app so that you can test some or all of your design assumptions on users.

What Do You Understand by Design Thinking?

Design thinking is both an ideology and a process tailored to solving complex problems in a user−centric way. It prioritizes empathy which is why UX design often shares a similar focus.

Design thinking breaks down conventional thought patterns encouraging new solutions to problems and promoting the use of creativity.

Design thinking typically involves five phases. It includes−

  • Empathizing

  • Defining

  • Ideating

  • Prototyping, and

  • Testing

It's essential to remember that these phases are not linear. Your design process will bring about new discoveries at each step, so you might need to go back to a previous step and consider what you've done and how you want to move forward.

Prototyping is the fourth stage of the design thinking process− from empathy to envisioning your problem, to coming up with solutions.

Why does Design Thinking Need Prototyping?

Prototyping is a way for designers to embody their ideas, quickly test new concepts for validity and effectiveness, and validate the usefulness of design decisions.

The prototype offers makers a powerful, easy−to−use workspace they can use to create and test projects before sharing them with their potential customers.

Design thinking prototypes are typically created with stakeholders, such as product managers and executive decision−makers, to gather feedback from potential customers using a quick "design test." Specific design interventions can be made after rigorous testing is completed.

The Importance of Prototypes in Design Thinking

Before launching the product, designers need to construct a prototype. Here are some benefits of prototyping during the process of designing and how you might be able to use them in your company.

  • The process of prototyping your idea is referred to as rapid design thinking. Using this method, you can identify draft aspects of the idea that are challenging or impossible to achieve and explore more options. When designing prototypes, you understand what elements may be impossible with the budget or time and resources you have available.

  • Analyzing your site's navigation is the best way to identify usability issues. Prototyping will assist you in identifying and completing these usability tests.

  • Presenting an idea to users can sometimes be challenging. The prototypes are a great way to take feedback and present it more tangibly to them in an easier−to−understand format.

  • Prototypes are something that quickly influences the vital project aspects, including scope, time, resources, and budget. They reduce risks and identify flaws in your design so that nothing is left to chance.

  • Prototypes are a great tool that makes the design process easier. They're also an important way to evaluate the right accuracy of your design and find flaws before your product is released.

  • With Prototypes exposure, you'll be able to explore a project from many different angles and see how it will impact the design.

What are the Types of Prototypes?

Now let's take a look at the different types of prototypes you might use. A prototype can be any form (a sketch, a diagram, an image) that only simulates the end product, it can be low−fidelity or high−fidelity, it can be interactive or non−interactive and it can have a limited lifecycle.

  • Form − What kind of form are you creating? Is it digital or hand−down ones?

  • Fidelity − When talking about prototypes, it's possible to hear the terms high−fidelity and low−fidelity. These terms refer to how detailed the prototype is, with high−fidelity referring to how well its design reflects the vision of your product while low−fidelity means it looks more like a rough sketch.

  • Interactivity − How well is the prototype designed? Is it easy to interact with or can users click on objects for better understanding?

  • Lifecycle − The Lifecycle of your product's prototype describes whether the current design is disposable or if it can be built upon, possibly becoming a final product.

How to make a prototype? Hacks and Best Practices

Now that we understand the importance of prototype design thinking, here's some advice on how to get started −

Choose the Right Prototype

A prototype is a great tool to use, but it's not the only tool in your arsenal. Before you model a prototype and get started, you should consider how much time and resources you have at your disposal. Begin with low−fidelity prototypes where possible, but as you release your product development, switch to high−fidelity prototypes.

Set Goals

Start with what you need from your experiment and keep the questions that are important to answer at the forefront of your thoughts. What's it going to teach you about your prototype?

Using the Correct Equipment

In the world of digital prototyping, it's important to experiment with a tool before settling on one. Considering your goals and functionality, determine which tool is right for you.

Making a Move

There are a few different ways to do prototyping of a design. The first and most important is to start with the design thinking process as soon as you need to or begin to have an idea for a product. It's an iterative process, so don't worry about doing it perfectly the first time. You can quickly create a prototype using any of these techniques.

The popularity of Prototyping in Design Thinking

When prototyping, it's important to make sure that the features you're testing are what your customers need to feel satisfied. The model of a prototype helps illustrate your ideas in a pre−work phase, potentially avoiding costly redesigns or time−consuming development.

One of the benefits of prototyping is that it provides early error discovery, faster user input, and a better understanding of the product you're creating. This translates to more efficient workflows and shorter development cycles.

For a prototype to be successful and provide value to your team, it's important for everyone involved to understand well what the potential advantages and risks are. Your board or committee can help brainstorm improvements based on your initial findings.


Visualizing and testing ideas is an important part of the software development process. It helps minimize expenses, as well as create a life−like model that you'll have before going into development.

Updated on: 20-Dec-2022


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