We’re down to the wire now. Or rather, we’re past it, since we already finished wireframing our website in our last post.
Now, it’s time to put all the work we’ve been doing into action.
If the Sketching phase is about validating our ideas and the Wireframing phase is about validating the content, the Prototyping phase is about validating the interaction of our website.
This is where we see if it makes sense from a user’s perspective to go to this screen when you click this button. Or if it’s best to put the hamburger menu on the top right or top left of the screen so a user can access it while holding their phone with one hand (as Microsoft labored over). To see if the overall experience has the correct flow or if the extra steps being added are unnecessary and make for a clumsy experience.
The Protoyping phase can be the costliest phase, especially if you put the time and resources into actually creating a full-fledged digital interaction. But it doesn’t have to be. You could create a “paper” version of the interaction if need be. But having a “live” screen version will help you test out your ideas with your user groups.
Just like the other two steps, the point of the Prototyping phase isn’t to create an entire website. Instead, you’ll want to focus on one key interaction that you can then extrapolate and create templates for other parts of your website. You’re trying to prove the validity of your ideas and the interactions on a small scale before diving in and creating a broken website that costs you more time and money than you had anticipated.
The three phases are here so you can create concrete ideas, work them on them and discover their flaws, and go back and try again. Doing so in small scale, Petri dish experiments makes it less costly to make mistakes and ultimately will yield a more thought-out, user-friendly website. And that’s the goal, right? To create a website that the user finds compelling to go to and easy to use.
Your ideas about what that entails are only that – ideas. By putting the ideas down on paper, drafting wireframes to see if the content matches, and creating prototypes to see if it all gels together, you can validate what’s in your head with what’s on the screen.
Now pick up your pencils and get started on your own UX design project.