“Prototyping is essential. All designers should advocate for and include it throughout their design process.” – Kathryn McElroy, author of the great O’Reilly book “Prototyping for Designers”, explains why prototyping is such an essential tool for getting feedback and improving ideas over time. And why it is so important to develop a mindset where you are comfortable with testing unfinished ideas in order to make the best result possible.
While wireframes are great for sketching and exploring design ideas, they can have their downsides, too. For example, they tend to limit creativity when visual designers are just coloring wireframes instead of understanding them as a conceptual guideline that can be further improved upon. That’s why Heleen van Nues and Lennart Overkamp suggest “Priority Guides” as an alternative that helps prioritize content at the start of a project.
In this talk (and transcript) from the IA Summit 2018 in Chicago, Andy Fitzgerald talks about how to use modeling and simulation to more effectively solve the dynamically complex problems we increasingly face as practicing designers of information spaces. Because “while prototyping is important for the validation and testing process, is it equally if not more important for the learning and creation process.” He then provides an example of a prototyping process for information architecture including an example from his recent work and shares his open-source toolkit for prototyping with content.
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to prototyping. That’s also the reason why prototyping can be applied so flexibly in different stages of product development or to achieve different goals. One aspect to think about and get right when building a prototype is choosing the right fidelity, the right level of detail. In this post, Emily Esposito compares low-fidelity to high-fidelity prototyping and shares the differences and respective advantages of each strategy.
And yet another piece about fidelity: Jerry Cao, content strategist at UXPin, explains in depth which factors can affect the right level of fidelity to build into a prototype, but also looks at different strategies of including prototyping in the design process, and ways to combine fidelity and functionality in prototypes.
Courses and Events
+ACUMEN offers a free prototyping course in cooperation with IDEO.org. You will learn methods that IDEO.org designers use to quickly build prototypes, learn best practices for testing those ideas in the field, and collecting real user feedback to iterate efficiently.
Framer is hosting a conference at the EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam this September. You can expect interesting talks about design and prototyping and there will also be hands-on Framer workshops including advanced topics like prototyping with data or hardware.
What an unexpected move by Adobe. Adobe XD is now completely free in the new Starter Plan. Included are all design and prototyping capabilities and you can create an unlimited number of XD documents. The number of active, shared prototypes and design specs is limited to one each. The May release also introduces password protected design specs, the ability to swap symbols, paste elements to multiple artboards, and also brings improvements to the Sketch and Photoshop integrations.
This really is a big step for Marvel: They just announced their new, free API, built with GraphQL which enables developers to build their own Marvel integrations or apps.
Overflow, a new user flow diagramming tool, is now publicly available for free. With Overflow, you can create, share, and present “a playable and interactive user flow diagram that allows zoom in and out to focus on the details or on the big picture”.
Finding the right prototyping tool can be a challenge. Prototypr now makes it a little easier for you with their Toolbox which lets you compare design and prototyping tools by platform, features, and pricing.
Lobe is a new visual tool that lets you build custom deep learning models, quickly train them, and ship them directly in your app or website using the Lobe Developer API. Looks like more users will be able to prototype with AI very soon.
Sketchize are a free set of useful sketch sheets by Halil İbrahim Çakıroğlu with devices like smartphones, tablets, or browsers with and without a dotted grid.
This plugin for Sketch adds a panel with ready-to-use wireframes of 38 screens that you can use to test ideas quickly and as a starting point for UI prototyping.
Material Design at your fingertips: The Framer team released a free Android UI Kit featuring Material Design elements that adapt to any screen size.