On Prototypes

I have to say right off the bat that I am actually obsessed with the pizza box prototype (in What do Prototypes Prototype?). It is genius in its simplicity, resourcefulness, cost, and effect.

Bill Buxton’s definition of a prototype through highlighting the differences between sketches and prototypes (What Sketches [and Prototypes] Are and Are Not.) seems to be the more traditional view of prototyping. And certainly what I had previously associated with prototypes. Sketches are the time to figure things out; prototypes are more of an end-game deal. Stephanie Houde and Charles Hill propose it is all prototyping, just varying stages. Definitions of terms are so important because all of the authors talk about the same principles, but their personal definitions are different. Either way, developing low-cost, effective prototypes (or sketches) in the infancy stages and throughout iterations and developments is vital for problem solving and successful product development.

And, as Experience Prototyping and Cardboard Computers explained, It is massively important to have the user experience the prototype and for the designer to witness the user in his element. And, if somehow the designer can be thrown into the user’s shoes, that is amazing. The defibrillator prototype experience looked absolutely fascinating. It was so important for the product development for the design team to be able to understand first-hand what their users go through.

The creative solutions explored in these articles are actually pretty inspiring. Before pouring all the money into a project that might not work or contains all sorts of blind-spot complications, if you can throw a cardboard box in a corner and magic marker “Laser Printer” on it or grasp a matchbox in your hand and imagine it’s a mouse or print up a sheet of paper that looks like a computer, that drastically changes the outcome of the project.

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