January 30, 2017 - No Comments!

5 ways to think like a prototyper

At Nokia we had dedicated roles on design teams for people to focus solely on prototyping. I find it most rewarding to jump into the process myself and become a prototype for a day or two because it helps clarify a lot of design thinking early and quickly. When you're in the thick of crafting a new prototype you should have a process for moving though this stage of the design efficiently.

As a product designer you probably need to put together presentations, write docs or even out together research plans. Here are a few principles I keep in mind to keep my prototyping efficient:


  1. Keep it organized
    • You want to avoid having to hunt for stuff after you put together a first draft of an idea in prototype form. Keeping all your layers organized will help you make adjustments and iterate down the line.
  2. Balance
    • Don't dwell on stuff that is not key to the interaction you're trying to work out. Sometimes you need to sweat the details of a refined animation and other times you just need to feel out a flow of screens to get some early feedback.
    • Choose the right tool for the job. Sometimes trading in a little finesse for speed is a good thing. Sometimes you need make sure the thing looks perfect.
  3. Bake in the interactions
    • Set up your files with tap targets in mind. Make sure the files you are getting ready are usable for other people. It's awkward if you pass your prototype to someone and they can't land their finger on a button. Janky stuff is ok because you're iterating fast, but if you set your file up for interactions early you will save time down the line.
  4. Start over
    • Don’t be afraid do throw it away and start over. Save the bits you can but don’t feel that you have to rescue everything. Starting over lets you see the interactions from a different perspective. I often find it better to start over as a way to untangle the project. This is a good tool to find edge cases you may have initially missed.
  5. Get comfortable
    • Get comfy with a tool of your choice. Get so good at it that it’s second nature. Learn by doing. Just kick off a project and force yourself to dive into a tool you want to learn. By the end of the project you will get a lot better at it and want to use it again. It sucks to feel like you have a barrier in prototyping but if you practice enough you will start to think in terms of that tool. That said, learn as many tools as you can so that you can adopt mental models relevant to those tools. In the end, the best tool is the one that aligns closest to the tools your engineers are using.

Learning several tools is a good way to set yourself up for the rapidly changing landscape of tools out there. You will have to learn new software again and again during your career. By building and rebuilding your interactions in different prototyping environments you are learning to be comfortable with that change.


Happy prototyping!


Published by: Yuriy in Uncategorized

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