A prototype is an early model or sample of a product that is built to test a concept or idea before its final form. The word prototype originated from the Greek word ‘prototypon’ meaning ‘primitive form’.
Industries that produce a product must always have a prototype at the beginning of their process this is to enable them to know that the product can be successful in future with more development as time goes by, when creating a prototype it is very important to solve the function of its use rather than the look of its form. By understanding the aspects of a prototype you manage to concentrate more on the functionality of the product helping the industry or creator of the prototype to figure out any problems that could occur before the final product.
Prototypes help to gather information for the indented purpose of its function to the user, this can range from a physical object that does a function or even a software prototype to see where the data is being put and visualized.
Below is an example of prototyping when it comes to web-design from paper to digital:
Within this prototype the creator had made a child like website which was intended for children, therefore for him to test his work he managed to find a little girl who has become his intended audience allowing him to ask as many questions as he can while they proceed through each page of the website (which is in paper form). In this method he gathers what works well and what doesn’t so that in future and before the final product is made he knows what to do. For this to become successful the creator had made it easy for the user to understand what was in the page of the website and how they recognized it therefore from here this was the order he managed to ask about the design before it final form:
- Told the user (child) it will only be a couple of minutes of her time
- How often does the child go on websites
- Talks about the users interest such as what is there favorite animal, what colour do you like, have you used any products like this before ?
- Gives the user an open question to allow more information to be processed as well as give there interpretation of the work “do you like this ? or what do you think about this one ?”
- Try and push more further questions within a question to get more specific answers about the work when the user give brief answers.
- Allows the child to freely roam the website (on paper) and asks how would you find this logo or page if he wasn’t there to help find it
- The designers ensures that he takes notice of all the things the child has ignored which could be important to alert him to change the design so its more appealing
- He asks the child what do they expect if they were to click this link
- Once all the information is gathered he allows the freedom of the child to discuss anything that the designer had missed out at the end of the session to give more information with an open question ” is there anymore you want to talk about?”.
From this I have learned that prototyping allows you to solve problems which are unpredictable unless it is user tested before its final form, with the level of understanding if the user is able to recognize all the symbolic meaning for links, images, colours ect for the website but this could work with any prototype depending on the intended functions and seeing if the users are able to adapt to the product/software.
Wikipedia, 2014. Prototype. [online] Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prototype [Accessed 14 Oct. 2014].
YouTube, 2010. Example Usability Test with a Paper Prototype. [online] Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wQkLthhHKA [Accessed 14 Oct. 2014].