How to Prototype Digital Products

January 12, 2023

How to Prototype Digital Products

A prototype is a basic version of a product that is used to test concepts and gather feedback.

Prototyping is an essential part of the design process, especially when it comes to digital products. A prototype is a basic version of a product that is used to test concepts and gather feedback. It can be as simple as a sketch or mockup or as complex as a fully functioning website or app. 

Prototyping allows designers to experiment with different ideas and get feedback from users early on in the process, which can save time and money in the long run. There are many different ways to prototype a digital product, and the best approach depends on the specific product and the goals of the project. 

However, there are some general tips that can help make the process smoother and more successful. In this guide, you'll learn everything you need to know about prototyping a digital product.

Define the Goals and Purpose of Your Prototype

Defining your goals is the first and most important step in any product prototyping process. After all, if you don't know what you're trying to achieve, it's going to be difficult to create a prototype that accomplishes your objectives. When defining your goals, it's important to be as specific as possible. 

For example, rather than simply saying that you want to create a prototype for a new mobile app, you might say that you want to create a prototype that allows users to log in, view their profile, and post updates. By being clear about your goals from the outset, you'll be able to create a more focused and effective prototype.

Once you know what you're trying to achieve, you can start planning your prototype. If you're just testing out a specific feature, you might not need to create a full-fledged product. A simple wireframe or mockup may be enough. 

However, if you're looking for feedback on the overall design of your product, you'll need to create a complete prototype. This might involve designing multiple screens and interactions and adding placeholder content. The important thing is to create something that closely resembles the final product.

Choose the Right Level of Fidelity

There are three different levels of fidelity to consider in digital prototyping:

Low-fidelity prototypes are typically the quickest and easiest to create. They often take the form of sketches or wireframes, and they can help explore different ideas or test basic functionality. 

Medium-fidelity prototypes are usually more detailed, and they often incorporate elements of both design and code. These types of prototypes can be used to test specific features or interactions, and they can help to validate a design before moving on to development. 

High-fidelity prototypes are usually very close to the final product, and they can be used for user testing or marketing purposes. When deciding which level of fidelity is right for your project, it's important to consider your goals and the resources you have available.

Understand Your User Flow

It's important to have a clear understanding of your user flow when you're creating a digital product. In other words, you need to know how users will interact with your product and what they need to do in order to complete their tasks. This will help you to design a user interface that is both intuitive and efficient.

A user flow diagram can be a helpful tool for mapping out this process. Once you've created a user flow diagram, you can use it to create a prototype of your product. This will help you to test the functionality of your product and make sure that it meets your users' needs. There are a number of different software programs that you can use to create prototypes, so choose one that best suits your needs.

Photo by George Milton

Choose the Right Prototyping Tool for You

Before you can start your digital product prototyping, you need to choose the right tool for the job. There are various prototyping tools available, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you're looking to create a high-fidelity prototype, you'll want to use a tool like Adobe XD or Sketch. 

On the other hand, if you need to create a working prototype quickly, you might want to use a tool like Marvel or InVision. The key is to select the tool that best meets your needs. Once you've chosen the right tool, you can start creating your prototype.

Remember, the goal is to create a version of your product that can be used for testing and feedback. Don't worry about making it perfect; just focus on getting it done.

What to Consider When Choosing a Tool

When it comes to prototyping digital products, there are a lot of different tools to choose from. So how do you know which one is right for you? Here are a few things to consider:

  • What kind of product are you prototyping? A web app will have different requirements than a mobile app, for example.
  • How complex does your prototype need to be? Simple prototypes can be created with basic tools like PowerPoint, while more complex prototypes may require something like Adobe XD.
  • How much time do you have to create the prototype? Some tools are more user-friendly and require less time to learn than others.

Once you've considered these factors, you should be able to narrow down your options and choose the right tool for your needs.

Design a Sketch of Your Prototype

When it comes to creating digital products, the initial sketch is often the most important step in the design process. This is because the sketch helps to establish the overall look and feel of the product. It also allows designers to experiment with different layouts and ensure that all of the necessary elements are included.

Once the sketch is complete, it can be used as a roadmap for the rest of the design process. From there, designers can begin to add more detailed elements, such as colors and textures. 

Create Your Prototype

After creating your prototype sketch, it's time to bring it to life. You have a few different options when it comes to digital prototyping. The best choice for you will depend on your budget, timeline, and skillset. If you're working with a limited budget or timeline, you can use a free online tool like Marvel to create a basic interactive prototype. 

If you have more money to invest in your prototype, you can hire a designer to create a high-fidelity visual mockup. If you're looking to create a working prototype that simulates the user experience as closely as possible, you may need to hire a coding pro. Whichever route you choose, the goal is to create something that allows you to test your assumptions and gather feedback from users.

Test! Test! Test!

One of the most important steps in digital prototyping is testing. After all, a prototype is only as good as its ability to accurately simulate the real thing. That's why it's important to put your prototype through its paces and test it in as many different ways as possible. 

Try using it in different scenarios and under different conditions. See how it responds to input from different users. And be sure to stress test it to see how it holds up under heavy use. By taking the time to thoroughly test your prototype, you can be confident that you're creating a product that will meet the needs of your users.

Iterate and Improve

After you've tested your prototype with users and gathered feedback, it's time to make improvements based on what you've learned. This is known as iteration, and it's an essential part of the prototyping process. The goal is to keep refining your prototype until it's as close to perfect as possible. 

When making changes, always keep the user's needs in mind. What problem are you trying to solve? What can you do to make the experience better? As you continue to iterate, your prototype will become more and more refined, and you'll be one step closer to launching a successful digital product.

Create Your Product

After you've gone through a few rounds of prototyping and testing, you're ready to start building your digital product. This is where things can get tricky because there are a lot of moving parts to consider. But with careful planning and execution, you can bring your vision to life. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you start building your digital product.

First, define the scope of your project and establish clear milestones. This will help you stay on track and avoid getting overwhelmed. Next, assemble a team of experts who can help you bring your product to life. Finally, create a detailed plan for how you'll actually build the product, including what technology you'll use and what steps you'll need to take. 

How to Prototype Digital Products: A Guide

Prototyping is an essential part of the product development process. It allows you to test your ideas quickly and cheaply, and it can help you to find potential problems early on. There are a number of different ways to prototype digital products, and the best approach for you’ll depend on your individual project. However, if you follow these guidelines, you can create a prototype that will help you to take your product to the next level.