A UX prototype is a rough, working model of a product that the design team is in the process of researching, designing, and producing.
Prototyping is an important part of the UX design process that helps you to test and refine your work to ensure that it truly solves user needs.
Why UX Prototyping is Important
The product goes through several design stages, which will bring it through the initial rough sketches to a polished UI that can be handed off to the development team for coding and deployment.
When you prototype your product and test it with users at each step of the process, you are able to make important changes early on, and overall improve the time-to-market by reducing the amount of time spent correcting issues that would otherwise only be caught at the end of the design or development process.
UX Protoype Fidelity
Depending on what you need to present to users or stakeholders, you will need to decide whether you are going to test with a low-fi or high-figh prototype.
Low Fidelity (Lo-Fi) Prototyping
A low fidelity prototype can be thought of as a simple rough sketch—often on pen and paper, although it can be created with a design tool such as Figma or Adobe XD. With a low fidelity prototype, you can focus on the essential structure of your design: user flows, layout, text, and buttons or icons.
High Fidelity (Hi-Fi) Prototypes
Most UX designers begin the prototype building design process with a low-fidelity digital prototype by constructing an interactive wireframe to test and validate essential interface elements.
After getting feedback, you can create a high-fidelity prototype that closely resembles the finished product in appearance and functionality. With every element in place, translating the design into code is easier.
In the final stages of a project, some design teams code a working prototype of the product to use for usability testing and final review. This is typically an extensive and time consuming process, but can be a great option for projects where you have access to a talented development team and a company that’s fully aligned with usability testing.