Great Article on Rapid Prototyping

Smashing Magazine recently posted Design Better and Faster with Rapid Prototyping by Lyndon Cerejo. This is a great article that not only explains the benefits of rapid prototyping, but also describes various fidelity areas and fidelity levels of prototypes and when you might use them. Cerejo says:

Fidelity refers to how closely a prototype resembles the final solution. There are multiple dimensions of fidelity, and prototypes can lie anywhere on the spectrum for each of these dimensions. Depending on the stage of the design process and the goals of the prototype, select the appropriate fidelity for each of the following: visual fidelity, functional fidelity, and content fidelity.

This is a key concept in maximizing productivity when prototyping. ProtoShare can handle different levels of fidelity, which makes it nice for evolving a prototype, but it also means there can be a temptation to over design at any given stage. As Cerejo says, to prevent this temptation, keep the goals in mind at all times. The prototype is always a means to engage in discussion and get answers to questions, not an end goal in itself.

Cerejo also lists out Dos and Don’ts for successful prototyping. Some very good points are listed. One of them is particularly germane to ProtoShare:

Don’t prototype features or functionality that cannot be implemented—often an issue with software package implementations. When in doubt, confirm with developers before starting.

Because ProtoShare is built using HTML and JavaScript, the components available for building prototypes are all real HTML constructs. If you need to show something really custom, we provide a Flash component, Image components, and even an HTML sandbox component where you can code anything you want (I like experimenting with HTML5 with it). But using the “regular” ProtoShare components like RichText and Navigation you won’t build anything that developers can’t easily code.

There’s a lot of other great information in this article, including the importance of collaboration and listing of helpful resources. I highly recommend you take a few minutes to read it.

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