Frequently Asked Questions
These common questions about prototyping and their short answers are taken from Todd Zaki Warfel's book Prototyping: A Practitioner's Guide. You can find longer answers to each in your copy of the book, either printed or digital version.
- What prototyping method should I use?
When choosing a prototyping method, a number of deciding factors need to be considered. You should start by asking the following questions: What's the goal of this prototype? Who is its audience? How comfortable am I with this method? Is it something I already know or can learn quickly? How effective will this method be at helping me communicate or test my design? The right prototyping method for your current situation depends on how you answer these questions. As your answers change, so might your selection of prototyping methods and tools.
See Chapter 5.
- Hi-fidelity or lo-fidelity?
Neither. Prototype fidelity is a sliding scale. Don't be concerned with hi-level or lo-level fidelity. The level of fidelity that matters is whatever is needed to help you accomplish your goal with the audience for your prototype.
See page 44.
- What are the differences between a wireframe, storyboard, and a prototype?
A prototype, regardless of its fidelity, functionality, or how it is made, captures the intent of a design and simulates multiple states of that design. Wireframes and storyboards are static representations of a design that on their own merit do not simulate multiple states of a design. It's the simulation and multiple states part that creates the distinction.
See pages 3-4.
- Why isn't "tool x" in your book?
I chose to include tools that were widely used in the field of user experience. When I started this book, I surveyed a few hundred practitioners to get a feel for the most common tools being used in the field of user experience. You can find the results of that survey in Chapter 5, "Picking the Right Tool."
Some tools, like Flash, have entire books dedicated to them. Flash is a great prototyping tool, but because it is so popular, I felt other tools deserved more attention.
OmniGraffle and Balsamiq are great diagramming tools that can be used for prototyping, but at the time of this book, neither represented a large enough market share to warrant writing about them. That might change. I'll be watching.
- How do I convince my client or boss that we should prototype?
This is probably the toughest challenge faced by those who are new to prototyping. It's not that you don't want to, or that you're scared of trying and failing. It's that you can't seem to get your boss or client to see the value in prototyping.
The first chapter in this book focuses on the value of prototyping. In that chapter, you'll learn how to make the argument with your client or boss that you cannot afford not to prototype. In fact, not prototyping will cost you more in the end than the time and effort it takes to prototype. Additionally, I've included a number of case studies and insights throughout the book, which should give you additional ammunition to make the case for
See pages 5-9.
- How do I get started?
You just jump in and do it. Don't feel like you have to learn a new tool such as Fireworks or how to code HTML. Instead, start with something simple--prototype with paper or PowerPoint. You can always work your way up to something more advanced.
See Chapters 6-11.