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What is Prototyping? Definition, Types, Qualities and more

Last Updated : 28 Feb, 2024
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A prototype is an early model of a product design or system that helps UX/UI designers evaluate, test, and revise their designs. It’s an essential part of UI UX Design that usually comes after ideation.

Prototyping is an iterative process of quickly building a simplified version of a product or system to test ideas, gather feedback, and refine the final solution. Prototyping is done before the development of the product to get clear solutions to improve the product. It ensures that the product meets the needs of the user. Prototypes are important during the design process as they allow testing and revising a design before it becomes final.

Prototyping in UI/UX Design

Prototyping in UI/UX Design

Types of Prototyping

There are basically three types of prototyping:

  1. Low-Fidelity Prototyping
  2. Medium-Fidelity Prototyping
  3. High-Fidelity Prototyping

Low-Fidelity Prototyping

A low-fidelity prototyping generally consists of a bare-bones version of the final product. It is an efficient, straightforward method of turning a design concept into a bit more real-world illustration of a software application. They are ideal for quick brainstorming and collaboration. In this the sketches are made and the connection to every part of the product is made on paper or board. It saves time and money, but may not have every function that a website should have.

Medium-Fidelity Prototyping

Medium fidelity prototyping has limited functionality but clickable areas which present the interactions and navigation possibilities of an application. It is a more detailed and realistic prototype than Low-fidelity prototyping.

High-Fidelity Prototyping

High-fidelity prototypes have a lot of detail and are interactive. They have better visual appeal and perform functions that are more similar to those of the finished product. It displays every detail in the design with its functionalities. This is the final step to ensure that the design is of good quality before it is implemented in the final product.

How to Create a Prototype?

Following are the steps that are required to create a prototype:

Step 1 (Requirements analysis)

  • A prototyping model begins with requirement analysis. In this phase, the requirements of the system are defined in detail and gives a brief idea of the system to the user.

Step 2 (Quickly Designing the Prototype)

  • A rapid and straightforward design of the entire product is made at this stage. It is not a complete design and gives a brief idea of the system to the user.

Step 3 (Creating A Prototype)

  • It is a small working model of the required system. This should be very close if not exactly like the final product that is meant to be developed.

Step 4 (Testing the Prototype)

  • In this step to validate the design decisions before mass production, real users will be needed try the product and identify issues that might arise. It finds out any flaws and mistakes in the working model. Comment and suggestion will be collected from the customer and then provided to the developer.

Step 5 (Prototype refinement)

  • Prototype will be refined according to the feedback and suggestions in this stage. A final system is developed after receiving all the suggestions and feedback.

Step 6 (Protecting the Design)

  • Once flaws are identified its needed to protect the intellectual property. This helps to avoid plagiarism and other companies copying the design.

Step 7 (Launching your test)

  • Before launching the test, it’s important to do a trial run with a colleague or friend to check if the set-up works as expected or not.

Step 9 (Sharing the results)

  • After receiving the responses it is time to analyze the test results. It will help in improving the product and will give direction to adjust the UI and UX, and iterate to get closer to the product launch.

Step 10 (Implementation of the product and Wrap up)

  • The final product will be developed according to the final prototype model and this will be tested thoroughly. After launching of the product, remember to conduct Live Website Testing.

Best Practices for Prototyping

Here are some of the best practices to follow for prototyping:

1. Define goals and criteria:

  • Before starting prototyping and testing, make a clear idea of what you want to achieve and what are the specifications needed.

2. Prototype only what is needed:

  • Don’t put all the details in an attempt to build the perfect prototype. Sometimes adding too many details can be act as a negative asset in the Prototype.

3. Only build the essential functions:

  • It is not necessary to create a flawless and comprehensive product. Start with the fundamental components, such as menus, CTA buttons, and crucial links.

4. Understand users and their needs:

  • Use various methods, such as user research, personas, scenarios, and user journeys, to gain insights into users’ behavior, preferences, and expectations. These insights will help to define the main tasks and to organize them in a logical and meaningful way.

5. Design for different devices and screen sizes:

  • UI navigation should adapt to different devices and screen sizes, such as desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Use responsive design principles and techniques to ensure that UI navigation is usable and accessible on different devices.

6. Test and Iterate:

  • Testing and iterating are the core activities of UI prototyping. Check usability testing, analytics, and take feedback, how well UI navigation works for users. Identify and fix any issues or problems that users encounter, and improve the navigation and functions accordingly.

Practices to Avoid in Prototyping for UI/UX

Here are some of the practices you should avoid in prototyping:

1. Not giving proper time in Research :

  • Not investing properly in this phase can lead to a failure as the prototype will be totally based on assumptions. Conduct user research, such as interviews, surveys, personas, and user journeys, and use the insights to understand the problem and the goal of the product.

2. Prototyping without a plan:

  • Once researching on a design solution to proceed with and have a sketch for it ready to go, plan out which screens to create in the prototype and in which order.

3. Adding too many wireframes:

  • Wireframes are not meant to be detailed or realistic representations of the final design. Overloading the wireframes with too much information can distract from the main purpose of communicating about usability and functionality of the product.

4. Prototyping at the wrong fidelity:

  • A common mistake is to use low-fidelity when high-fidelity would be more suitable, and vice versa. This can lead to wasted time and effort.And in addition the prototype can take too long to develop.

5. Overcomplicating the Prototype:

  • Try to make your prototype as simple as possible for users.

Qualities Of A Good Prototype

  • Representation: A prototype is a basic representation of the actual product. It represents how the product will look or work.
  • Precision: The prototype’s fidelity, or the degree of detail: low-fidelity or high-fidelity.
  • Functional: A good prototype executes the fundamental operations of the final product. A good prototype is one that can be easily improved upon.

Advantages of Prototyping

Some Advantages of Prototyping are:

  • We can overview the working system early in the process.
  • It can be used to test each component of the finished product before it is constructed.
  • Results in higher user satisfaction
  • Problems are detected before launch of the product.
  • Reduces development time and cost.
  • Missing functionality can be identified prior to the launch of the product.
  • Scope of considering new requirements.

Disadvantages of Prototyping

Some Disadvantages of Prototyping are:

  • Prototyping can be time-consuming and expensive.
  • Risk of adding extra features beyond the original scope.
  • Focus on visual design may overshadow functionality.
  • Feedback may be misunderstood or misapplied.


Prototyping plays a very crucial role in UI/UX design. It is a process of interface design that helps to determine the functionality and usability of the product before the final launch. Prototypes can vary in fidelity, and in reality, and can begin at any stage. It is a practical design which helps to acknowledge the user’s perspective in every possible ways.

Prototyping in Design – FAQs

When should Prototyping be used?

Prototyping is best used in projects with complex or uncertain requirements, tight deadlines, and a need for early user feedback.

List some commonly used tools for Prototyping?

Commonly used tools for prototyping include:

  • Graphic design software like Adobe XD, Sketch, or Figma.
  • Prototyping-specific tools such as InVision,, or Axure RP.
  • Web development frameworks like Bootstrap or Foundation.
  • Low-fidelity tools like paper prototyping or whiteboard sketches.

How do you measure the success of a prototype?

If the metrics, stakeholder satisfaction and alignment with project goals is achieved then the prototype is said to be successful.

How long should prototyping take?

The duration of prototyping can vary depending on project complexity and objectives but typically ranges from 1-6 weeks.

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