Prototyping Basics: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Prototyping Basics | Prototyping Basics: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started | Did you know that the United States market for prototyping is worth an estimated $300 million? Prototyping is exciting for anyone that has a new idea for a product and is just beginning the design process to make that idea come to life. It is important when you start prototyping to know your target audience so you can provide them with the best user experience.

There are many types of prototyping, so you’ll need to know which types apply to your product and design style. The good news is that you’ve come to the right place to learn more about prototyping basics and how they’ll help you with your design priorities.

Continue reading to learn more about getting started with the prototype for your great ideas.

What Is Prototyping?

Prototypes are products that are still in the experimental stage and are being tuned and improved towards the final product. These prototypes are concepts that are working through the design stage and getting closer and closer to becoming that finished product at will line shelves in stores.

The main purpose of creating a prototype is to use it for testing and get feedback from the user experience. That information is then used to improve the existing features and add new ones that will enhance the experience of the user. They also help to direct your prototype towards the target market that will use it and need it most.

Prototypes also add the benefit of allowing the inventor or designer to dive even deeper into their ideas. The prototype is more of the starting point that they build off of towards what the product ultimately becomes. There are great new ways to create prototypes like plastic prototypes. For more information, visit

Common Types of Prototypes

There are two common types of prototypes that you’ll see across many different industries. They are paper prototypes and digital prototypes. Here is a closer look at each common type of prototype.

Paper Prototypes

If you’re going for simplicity then paper prototypes are the simplest form of prototyping. These prototypes are created using simple items like a ballpoint pen and some paper. The designer uses these tools to draw how they picture the product looking when it is finished in the future.

These drawings are then connected in a way that mimics digital interactions to create a realistic portrayal of what you should expect your prototype to look like. A paper prototype is most valuable when used in the early parts of the design stage for your product. It is used as a way to validate your product ideas and see how realistic they are.

One of the biggest benefits of using paper prototypes is that they’re easy to create. A good drawer can create a paper prototype in a matter of minutes. This helps to really layout ideas while they’re still fresh in the designer’s mind.

Another great benefit of paper prototyping is that it doesn’t require any special tools. All that a designer needs is the ability to draw, a pen, and something to draw on to start the prototyping process and get an idea rolling.

Paper prototyping also doesn’t require any special skills. While being good at drawing definitely doesn’t hurt, you don’t need to be a world-class artist to put together an innovative prototype. Paper prototypes aren’t expected to look perfect.

The downside to paper prototypes is that they look unrealistic. This means that people who interact with your paper prototype will need to use their imagination to get an idea of how it will work in real life. This limits the amount of useful feedback you’re able to collect.

Digital Prototypes

Digital prototypes are created through the use of a prototyping tool. They’re also created using coding languages that are used for programming purposes. Digital prototypes are best used in the later stages of the design process because they give you a chance to polish your product and get any minor issues figured out.

The biggest benefit of choosing to use a digital prototype is that it helps you get real feedback on how your product works and it allows for realistic interactions. This means that they’re perfect for getting a feel for the user experience they provide since they work almost the same as your finished product will.

The digital prototype has the added benefit of evolving into the finished product. It is likely that some parts of the prototype will be included in the final design of your product.

The big drawback to be aware of with digital prototypes is that they’re time-consuming to create. This is especially true when you compare digital prototypes to paper prototypes. You’ll need to be ready to invest a lot of time into digital prototypes in order to be successful.

The Prototyping Process

There are certain steps that you need to take when you’re starting the prototyping process. Here is a closer look at those steps so that your prototyping process goes smoothly.

  1. Define Your Requirements

You’ll need to define your goals for your product to have success with prototyping. Why do you need a prototype, and what are you trying to solve?

  1. Ideation

After you establish your goals you’ll jump in with ideas for prototypes. Think outside of the box even if your prototyping ideas seem silly or ridiculous to you. This is important to have success with the prototyping process.

  1. Build Your Prototype

After you’ve come up with your ideas and settled on the one you like most, you’ll begin the building part of the design process. You’ll design your prototype based on the information you gained through quick designs like paper prototypes.

  1. User Testing

The next step involves getting user feedback from having your target audience use your prototype. Observe how the users interact with your product and ask for feedback about the user experience. This will help you make informed decisions when adding to the design.

  1. Refine Your Prototype

The last step in the design process is to refine your prototype. Use the information you’ve gained through user feedback and interaction with your product to improve things the target audience doesn’t like and add things they’ve asked to be added. You’ll need to meet all requirements you set for your product at the beginning of the prototyping process.

Make Your Ideas Come To Life

The best thing about prototyping is that it provides you with an opportunity to bring your great ideas to life. It is a process of taking something into your mind and manifesting it into a product that is meant to solve an issue or improve peoples’ lives. There is a certain process you need to go through in order to get your product from an idea to a finished product.

Be sure you know which type of prototype your product needs and follow the five steps of the prototyping process. This will help you get the best results.

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