Best Practices for Rapid Prototyping

Michelle Chu -

To optimize your mockups and prototypes for the Alpha testing process, here are some tips for your designers and prototypers: 

Give the illusion of reality 
Make your prototype appear as a real product. Mockups should feel solid enough to communicate your product ideas. We do not recommend testing wireframes: users (even when instructed to ignore design) can't help but provide design feedback on grey wireframes. If needed, Alpha can apply color and design elements to your wireframes before testing.

Make copy relevant, easy to read, and consistent
Copy in the prototype should make sense based on your product concept. Lorem Ipsum or dummy text should not be present—it will confuse users in the testing phase, because they won't be able to understand it. Personal user information (such as the name and address) should remain the same across variants.  

Provide the ideal user flow
Along with the prototypes, please provide the steps (including where to click) to mimic a successful user experience. This way, our design team can make edits as needed without changing the core experience, and our testing team can properly instruct the user during sessions.

For example:

  1. User views Purchase screen
  2. User adds item to Cart
  3. User clicks on "Buy Now" button
  4. User views all items in Cart
  5. User confirms purchase by clicking "Purchase" button

Design to test specific stimuli, with few variables at a time
In prototype testing, your design variants should be identical except for the variables being tested.

Variables for test variants often include different copy, button placement, interstitial screens and images. These variables should be easy for users to identify.

Example of what to split test

Example of what NOT to split test

Create a clear path
Users have short attention spans. If they can’t figure out a prototype, they will often abandon the test before completion. Therefore, while the final product might have multiple paths, limit the areas of interaction and remove anything that distracts from what you want to test. Not all buttons have to be clickable or show interactions — only enable hotspots that will drive users through the desired flow.

Don't sweat details that don't matter
When designing for final production, you’ll need to consider issues such as responsiveness across screen sizes, branding elements, stakeholder concerns and technical feasibility.

However, when creating prototypes for rapid testing cycles, do not prototype the entire product. Focus on the piece of the product you are looking to test and the user journey that is critical to the product’s success, and show screens that empower users to complete the desired flows (one to two maximum per test).

Remember, your prototypes do not need to be pixel perfect. Users will view colors, text and images to better understand your product, not necessarily evaluate your visual design.