There are different stages of prototyping, which increase in fidelity and time taken to create. Therefore it is important to start with low fidelity tools and move further as the ideas are more concrete. Some of these tools are
- Creating Paper Prototypes
- Digital Mock-ups
- Wizard of Oz
- Video Prototypes
This technique involves rough sketches which tell a story. It should have the stage (people, task being done), the script (actions, sequences of steps) and the outcome (fulfilled motivations, satisfaction). Since these are lowest fidelity tools, a harsh timelines, like 10min per storyboard, fells keep the focus and discovering various options.
Storyboarding helps in keeping the focus on the problem being solved, instead on the UI. Thus having a common understanding of the goal and avoiding bike-shedding.
Paper prototypes are mock-ups of the UI using paper, post-its, sketch pens, scissors and glue, and other materials depending on creativity.
This technique helps in discovery of a good UI, and all stakeholders can easily contribute.
Once a good UI is discovered using paper prototypes, we can move onto the next stage.
These are the digital version of the paper prototypes and can be created by a variety of tools like, Photoshop, balsamic or HTML.
These let you refine the UI before developing the actual application.
Wizard of Oz
This technique involves simulating what the machine will do using human operators. This is a very high fidelity prototype, where the users might think it is the real deal. But instead of coding the back-end, we only have the UI, while the back-end is powered by humans. This is especially useful if writing the back-end is an expensive task, like using machine learning etc.
Advantages of wizards
- Places the user at the center of development
- Faster and more iterative prototypes
- Identifies bugs and problems with current design
- Can envision challenging-to-build applications
Disadvantages of wizards
- Simulations may simulate technologies that do not exist or really hard to build.
These can be thought of as the video depiction of the storyboard. Therefore it should also have the entire flow, including motivation and success. But instead of drawing, you show the user and the settings in a video.
However, videos, especially audio can be a huge time sink and so should be used appropriately and aim at telling the story instead of perfection.