Rapid prototyping is taking the world by storm- and for good reason. It is a ground-breaking prototyping method and has seen its adoption numbers soar over the past few years. This means that there is an ever increasing demand for skilled professionals in this field. In a more general sense, rapid prototyping is the design process where a mock-up of the future state of a system, be it software or hardware, is created and validated alongside a broader team of users, stakeholders, developers and designers. The iterative performance of the aforementioned creates a feedback loop that ensures improvement in the final design as well as reduction in the need for changes during development.
It is usually the case that rapid prototyping involves multiple actions along a three-fold process. These processes are prototyping, reviewing designs, and refining until a desirable end product is reached.
Scoping a prototype
“The word prototype often conjures images of a coded, fully functioning version of an application or interface. Rapid prototypes are not intended to evolve into fully functional solutions, but are meant to help users visualize and craft the user experience of the final product. With that in mind, when scoping a prototype, decide on a few key issues before beginning any prototyping work.”
Alongside this is the need for a meticulous understanding of a few questions: What needs to be prototyped? How much should be prototyped? This will help any good Rapid Prototyping professional grasp each project’s nuances better and in the end, become better at the craft.
Always construct a good plan for your iterations
A good prototype usually consists of multiple iterations building piece by piece into the final, polished prototype. With this in mind, a good approach generally involves starting widely and then diving succinctly into select parts of the product with respect to their order of importance. Always keep in mind that a general rule of thumb in prototyping is to always try to focus on the 20% of features that will be used 80% of the time. This means that the most useful features of the product in question will indeed be done properly.
Always challenge your own prior assumptions
According to Chris Becker, a popular prototyping professional and designer, “ Anytime you come up with a task you need to do, or extra thing you need to build, ask yourself if it’s really necessary. Think through what would happen if you didn’t build it. Sometimes we convince ourselves that an unimportant feature is critical, or that we need to code up a complex operation ourselves when a simple one will do. You might also be thinking of lots of edge cases in your app that may cause trouble, when in fact the likelihood of a user hitting them is very small. The simpler you can keep things, the faster you can build them.”
Alongside this, it is also very important to consider timeframes. Always construct a realistic, doable deadline within which the design can be finished. It is always important not to rush the process. Always remember that doing a good job slow is better than doing a bad job fast.
The above mentioneds tips are a guide as to how to approach any RP project and if followed, can expedite the conceptualization as well as iteration and prototyping of said project.