At the heart of every innovation, there’s a consumer insight that is followed by an idea, or a solution. Design Thinking is one of the best ways to make sure the innovation would be meaningful by brainstorming improvements based on consumer feedback before investing heavily in project development. So, how can digital prototyping help? Prototyping plays several roles in the innovation process:
1. Visualize your idea
The prototype is a medium where your idea can come to life. It is a product you can show to your team and to consumers to generate feedback.
- Always approach prototyping with a plan. For example, you could create a high-level user story map. Included would be all your user stories, listed by functionality for every role
- Focus on ‘how it works’, not on ‘how it looks.’ Choose to create wireframes or use greyscale when prototyping. This reduces users’ distraction on design and helps facilitate conversation.
2. Refine your idea with the core team
When a prototype is created, it can serve as an ideation tool as new ideas are formulated based on reviews of the new visuals.
Innovate on the fly. At City Innovation Labs we help teams boost ideation by replacing the traditional white-boarding and paper drawings with interactive rapid prototyping. During a strategic workshop, a designer is sharing his screen and creating a wireframe in real-time. This increases delivery speed by minimizing any feedback latency.
3. Validate your idea with all project stakeholders
Once the prototype is refined, it would make sense to validate it with stakeholders across departments to make sure all feedback has been incorporated in the process.
4. Estimate development resources and technology choices
Prototypes (together with user story maps) serve as a good illustration for development teams to understand project ideas and estimate the architecture and resources required to produce it. The prototype serves as an explanation of the interface for design and development. The UI clean design phase typically starts before development.
5. Test with potential end-users
This is the most important and often understated part of the prototyping.
- Segment users well: test on extreme users as well as regular consumers to see your product from totally different perspectives.
- Be ready to list and prioritize feedback against the goals and do a cost-benefit analysis
Digital prototyping is an essential part of the innovation process. Not only does it help garner feedback from the people using the product, but it allows a clear and iterative process from the very beginning.