“A simulation or sample version of a final product, which is used for testing prior to launch.” The goal of a prototype is to test products (and product ideas) before sinking lots of time and money into the final product.

Prototyping is essential for resolving usability issues before launch.

Prototypes have 4 main qualities:

  • Representation — The actual form of the prototype, i.e., paper and mobile, or HTML and desktop.
  • Precision — The fidelity of the prototype, meaning its level of detail, polish, and realism.

  • Interactivity — The functionality open to the user, e.g., fully functional, partially functional, or view-only

  • Evolution — The lifecycle of the prototype. Some are built quickly, tested, thrown away, and then replaced with an improved version (this is known as “rapid prototyping”). Others may be built and improved upon, ultimately evolving into the final product.