Prototyping is an interesting phase in creation and is one of my favorite steps. This stage allows what was once only an idea to begin to take shape into a rational product.
According to the Interactive Design Foundation, the purpose of prototyping is,
“When designers want to determine and understand exactly how users will interact with a product, the most obvious method is to test how the users interact with the product. It would be foolhardy and pointless to produce a finished product for the users to test. Instead, designers can provide simple, scaled down versions of their products, which can then be used in order to observe, record, judge, and measure user performance levels based on specific elements, or the users’ general behaviour, interactions, and reactions to the overall design.”
While this much is true before this can even be achieved one must first rapid prototype. Rapid prototyping is the stage where the designer is encouraged to let all ideas hit the paper, good and bad. Letting yourself get over the speed bump of being afraid to have a bad idea is exactly what you need to let the good ones flow.
It’s okay to go back and change your idea at any point too, you may not have realized that it wouldn’t work until you started prototyping but that’s an important part of the learning process.
The Design Foundation also says,
“Research conducted during the early stages of your Design Thinking project does not tell you everything you need to know in order to create the optimal solution. Regardless of whether you have researched thoroughly and gathered a large body of information, or whether your ideation sessions have resulted in what many perceive as a world-changing solution, testing is still crucial for success.”
It’s been stated many times in my design class that this is not a linear process and often times you will have to go back to the drawing board and come up with entirely new ideas. There was once a time when I would have considered that failure and not understood how going back to square one could help me at all.
Now I embrace failure and look forward to finding the flaws in my prototypes.
The Design Foundation also has one of my favorite quotes about moving forward and making progress,
“One of the most important aspects of Design Thinking is exploring unknown possibilities and uncovering unknown insights. This is the reason the discipline places emphasis on learning and on activities that increase the learning potential of the team. You can boost action-orientated learning by experimenting and exploring the proposed solutions in order to understand what problems may exist with the assumptions behind those solutions. As such, your team can iterate rapidly, modifying your test models and moving you closer and closer to the goal.”
This sort of thinking is most obvious in the prototyping stage, which is why it’s my favorite out of all of them. That moment of seeing your goal come to fruition is incredible.