- To figure out what type of prototype you need to create, think about the questions your team is trying to answer. It helps me to think about these questions as four categories of prototyping. Sometimes we need to generate new ideas, or convey complex interactions, or document design intent, or perhaps learn how users react to your ideas. For example, at frog, we worked with Honeywell, an American multi-national company best known for their home and business control thermostats, to transform their various home products into a unified, connected home platform.
Early on, we needed to generate ideas for how each connected product could help the homeowner feel more at home rather than just represent a function, like setting a temperature. So we rapidly made some prototypes of new thermostat interactions that focused more on emotion. These initial prototypes turned us on to the concept that we needed to make comfort multi-sensory through light and touch, so now we needed to convey more nuanced interactions. As the connected home ecosystem took shape, we wanted to learn about how all the parts work together, so we introduced a mobile web prototype to test and make design decisions.
Finally, we needed to document the new ecosystem, so Honeywell's team could produce it, so we created prototypes to cover some of the functional flows of the experience. The structure of these four categories of design experiments align really well with UCD, or User-Centered Design, activities and goals. UCD is designing with the person's needs in mind throughout the process. These four categories of prototyping also dovetail nicely with design thinking activities like research, ideation, concepting, building, and validating, so next time your business or customer faces an important challenge, use these four categories to zero in on your goal.
Feel free to try it out, and leverage the course community to learn new ways to apply them. For example, you could use an urgent problem that needs solving from your organization's community, or maybe one you and your team are currently tackling. Either way, identify which categories are a good fit, and finally, share that specific problem you're able to frame along with the experiments you came up with.
- The four categories of prototyping
- Choosing the right approach
- Deciding what to prototype
- Generating ideas rapidly
- Documenting and conveying
- Using simulations
- Creating objects
- Making a prototype