Prototyping a Boon for Ideas

We have all had those eureka moments when we look at a situation or a problem and find in it an opportunity to improvise or solve. Often we don’t pursue our idea or keep procrastinating upon it.

Why is that?

There can be several reasons that kill those ideas even before inception, like “I am not creative enough”,”I don’t have a proper team”, “It is too difficult to implement”, “What if people don’t accept it?” , “I am not technically qualified” etc. These thoughts that haunt us are often nothing more than trivial excuses that we give ourselves. If we have an idea, we need nothing more than a mere prototype to test out its validity.

So what are prototypes and how can they help validate our quirky ideas?
Prototyping is a process in which we make our ideas real and tangible very quickly and very cheaply. These can be anything ranging from drawings on paper to simple cardboard cutouts to even role playing our users..

How do prototypes help?

  1. Prototypes allow us to get feedback from our teammates and from the people we are designing for.
  2. They help us think through the interactions of the user with the system.
  3. They help us to physically demonstrate our ideas with something we can see and touch.
  4. We can easily change the design in accordance to the user behaviour and feedback.

So what is something we must keep in mind before making prototypes?
We must remember to make as many prototypes as possible and then get feedback on the different options. This helps us to not get too attached to a particular prototype and also allows the users to compare and collaborate for what works and what doesn’t.

It is important to provide only the  essential details to the user without manipulating him/her to change his/her usage pattern. This allows the user to interact with the system in a manner he/she finds innate.

What are the different types of prototyping?

1. Story Boards
Story boarding is a very powerful exercise which identifies the pain points of the different user personas and helps them achieve their emotional goals. What is the user feeling when he/she is interacting with the system? How does his/her emotions vary on task initiation, task propagation and task completion?

2. Role Plays
Role plays as the name suggests is an activity wherein different participants enact the whole experience to understand what it may look like and then ask each other and the audience to give feedow the whole experience can be improved upon.

3. Walkthroughs
Walkthroughs allow people to go through the exact experience as if the system were real.
For example making an automated ticket counter with the help of cardboards and showcasing different interactions for it by post it buttons. Then later on asking the users if the whole experience was comfortable for him with such a system.

Ultimately the purpose of the prototype is to answer questions which help in validating the whole idea and experience like:

  1. Is it useful? Why/Why not?
  2. Is it desirable? Why/Why not?
  3. Is it easy to use? Why/Why not?
  4. Is it functional? Why/Why not?
  5. Is it sustainable?Why/Why not?
  6. How does it compare to the other alternatives?

In the end I would like to suggest to not  procrastinate on your ideas as you might be sitting on a goldmine.

Happy prototyping !

 

 

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