Prototyping

prototyping2A prototype can be described as 

‘An original type, form, or instance serving as a basis or standard for later stages’ (The Free Dictionary, 2014).

Creating a prototype relates to the iterative design process as it allows you to gain feedback and then make refinements and improvements. It is a stage where you can engage with the users and analyse whether the piece is easy to understand, engaging, suitable and whether or not it is successful or not. It is a useful tool in order to evaluate user experience and can be very beneficial in order to produce a successful final piece. Beaudouin-Lafon and Mackay suggest that 

‘Prototypes both inform the design process and help designers select the best solution’.

They propose four ways in which to analyse prototypes:

  1. Representation (form of prototype eg. paper/computer, offline/online)
  2. Precision (level of detail eg. formal/rough)
  3. Interactivity (how user can engage with prototype)
  4. Evolution (life cycle of prototype eg. iterative/throw away)

I feel that creating a prototype for my piece would be beneficial as it would allow me to fully show my ideas and directly engage with the users, hence following an iterative design process. As I don’t have enough knowledge of processing yet to create a rough programmed piece, I feel that creating a rough paper prototype could be suitable. Here is an example of a website usability test using a paper prototype:

As you can see, a paper type is just as beneficial and in this case it has allowed the designer to understand more about the users and how they would understand and experience the website. This example has also highlighted to me the importance of properly testing the prototype, and as Bramhall (2014) says

‘Testing a prototype is equally as important as prototyping a design in the first place.’

When testing a prototype, I should ensure that I engage with the target audience and ask suitable questions in order to help me improve and make my piece a good interactive experience for its users.

Beaudouin-Lafon, M and Mackay, W.E, 2014. Prototyping Tools and Techniques [online]. Available from: https://www.lri.fr/~mackay/pdffiles/Prototype.chapter.pdf [Accessed 23 October 2014].

BlueDuckLabs, 2010. Example Usability Test With A Paper Prototype. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wQkLthhHKA [Accessed 23 October 2014].

Bramhall, D, 2014. The Importance of Prototyping Your Designs. Creative Blog. 20 August 2014. Available from: http://www.creativebloq.com/netmag/importance-prototyping-your-designs-81412694  [Accessed 23 October 2014].

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