All great experiences start with an idea, an insight, a gut feeling, perhaps. Often concepts are bounced around via brainstorming or other techniques. Bringing a concept to life through a prototype allows a team to explore ideas in new and different ways, with a baseline of data insights to help light the way to new creative possibilities.
Big (and small) digital ideas need support and buy-in to move forward, often from a cross-functional group. Prototyping is instrumental in helping to shape a shared vision across both internal and external stakeholders. This alignment around a vision for the possible drives greater collaboration across product and technical teams, outside vendors, and even executive management.
Hypotheses about what will work best in digital are kind of like opinions – we all have them. Prototyping moves beyond opinion to find out what works through data. Most often the test results don’t point to a singular truth or one right way, but they can provide indications of “magnitude and direction” of sentiments and behaviors.
The good news and bad news is that everything in business is moving digital. With such a wide range of potential project investments, it becomes critical to manage risk and expectations through a strong prototyping process. At the end of each effort teams should feel empowered to decide if a given experience / product / tool should be evolved, scaled, or killed.
Every prototyping effort should have a clear purpose: what do we want to learn, from whom, and what is the minimum digital experience needed (or possible with the budget at hand)? The goal isn’t always to develop an MVP (“minimum viable product”), but rather to test hypotheses that will help inform forward decision-making.
Once the purpose has been nailed down, the focus should be on determining the appropriate fidelity level for the prototype. Low-mid-high level experiences can all provide tremendous value and “bang for the buck”. It’s key to identify the right balance of visual and functional fidelity, as noted in the quadrant chart below.
Prototyping tools have evolved rapidly to the cloud, facilitating collaboration and reducing the time to produce a testable output. Some efforts can be accomplished through tools like inVision, Adobe XD, or Pixator to share with colleagues or clients prior to coding. And of course big players like Adobe continue to develop and integrate prototyping tools into their base platforms. Bottom line, digital prototyping has moved from a trend to a best practice and we’re excited to see ongoing innovations in the tools (in addition to our own internal methodologies) to make the process better, faster, and cheaper.
Our teams of creative technologists at Zemoga have been driving innovation for clients through prototyping for over 15 years. We’ve helped firms large and small improve their digital marketing, products, sales tools, and customer service experiences. If you’d like to learn more about our proven approach, please reach out.