Practice Your Prototyping Skills With These 4 Resources

Feb 21, 2019WORDS BY Jayme Brown VISUALS BY Jane Ha

Say you're not necessarily a designer (raises hand), and you're a little intimidated by what you think of as the ultra-technical practice of prototyping (raises hand again). Here's the thing: You may not realize it, but you've prototyped before.

That time you built a spreadsheet for collecting data from your team and adjusted it based on their feedback? That was prototyping. When you ran your big presentation with a couple colleagues and swapped out a few slides because someone said it didn’t quite flow? Also prototyping.

At its simplest, we'd argue that prototyping is the intentional testing of ideas. The key is to do it quickly and thoughtfully. Need a little help figuring out where to begin? Here are four resources to get you started.

1. When you're at the very, very beginning

Kicking things off can be the hardest part. If you’re still trying to figure out exactly how prototyping will fit into your or your team’s creative process, try pulling some ideas from this story of one IDEO team’s experiment with early-stage prototyping.

READ: Why You Should Start Prototyping—Right Now

2. When your next project isn’t designing a thing, but designing a service

Many of our everyday transactions—everything from paying for coffee to selecting airline tickets—are highly designed processes. But where do you start when your project is creating a service, not an object? Dive in with these tips.

READ: 3 Tips to Help You Prototype A Service

3. When the constraints of your project feel like they’re testing you

Been there. If (and when) you’re feeling stuck, lean on the how might we questions in this piece about leveraging design constraints to get you moving.

READ: The Bright Side of Design Constraints: 3 Tips for Leveraging Limitations

4. When you need an example

Itching to see prototyping in action? Follow one of IDEO’s designers as he experiments with 360˚ video.

READ: How to Experiment With 360˚ Video

  • IDEO Alum

    Jayme is a writer and native New Yorker on a quest to find California’s best bagel. She loves people, in all their creative, complex, confusing glory, and San Francisco’s morning fog.

  • IDEO Alum

    Jane is an interaction designer with a notorious reputation for drowning her house plants in love. If she’s not whispering sweet nothings to her variegated rubber plant, she’s finding some other crafting hobby to obsess over, then discard shortly after.