First of all, it is important to be clear about the concept of what a prototype is. A prototype is the most basic practical model of a product. It is usually designed with lines and graphics, and is a figurative representation of the functional sections and elements of the product.
When it comes to proto mold products, understanding the concept of a prototype is crucial. Essentially, a prototype serves as a fundamental, practical model of a product, typically featuring detailed lines and graphics that offer a representative depiction of the functional sections and elements of the final product.
Fidelity is the degree to which the prototype is close to the final product form. The higher the fidelity, the better the prototype represents the product in its final state of operation. By fidelity, prototypes are classified into low-fidelity prototypes and high-fidelity prototypes.
In most cases, a low-fidelity prototype is sufficient for the job. This prototype is also called wireframe, which is a sketch of a page outlined with lines and shapes.
The sketch should contain the layout, interaction and logical description of the product pages and features. It can be created using any tool, even hand-drawn.
Although such sketches do not reflect visual aesthetics, they already allow the reader to understand what the product's functionality is. Low-fidelity product prototype diagrams can be communicated to anyone, but are primarily used for communication within the product team.
A wireframe diagram like this shows the modules and functionality of each page, along with some interactive elements. The product manager then supplements it with some explanations, which is enough for UI designers and developers to understand the functions that the product is trying to achieve.
During the product discovery phase, sometimes user research is conducted or solutions are reported to the leadership. If these stakeholders are not familiar with the product development process or to pursue a better experience, high fidelity product prototypes are needed.
In the product discovery phase, when stakeholders may lack familiarity with the product development process or seek improved user experience, practical prototype solutions with high fidelity become essential. These prototypes aid in effectively conveying the proposed solutions, engaging stakeholders, and eliciting valuable feedback that contributes to refining the product's design and functionality.
There are 3 main principles of product prototyping.
1) The primary purpose of designing a prototype is to solve one or more product risks at a lower cost.
2) Make higher fidelity product prototypes only when needed.
3) Team members and business partners can gain consensus by experiencing the prototype.
The core philosophy of these 3 principles is that there is no best, only best fit!
In other words, the lower the cost, the more appropriate, as long as the risks can be addressed and the people involved can reach consensus on the product concept.
A high-fidelity prototype does make a difference, but it comes at a higher cost in terms of labor and time. If the prototype is modified frequently, the amount of modification can be significant.
In practice, a low-fidelity wireframe would be sufficient for 90% of the application scenarios.
Drawing prototypes is just one of the product manager's jobs. The time saved from drawing prototypes is reserved for understanding the business, which can yield greater value.
Product prototypes, fit is good!