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15 Useful Prototyping Articles for UX Practitioners

Jerry Cao
By Jerry Cao on 21st March, 2016

    Prototyping is one of the most useful UX practices available. Rather than showing your static design, prototypes are the living design.

    Luckily, there’s no shortage of advice online, so if you’re looking for some quick reads on prototyping, check out our favorites below.

    1. Three Metaphors for Prototyping

    This clever and thought-provoking piece better explains the heart of prototyping through three novel metaphors. A great read for UX practitioners of any level of experience, Matt Yurdana’s article helps understand the point of prototyping by seeing it from a new light.

    2. Why Designers Should Never Skip Prototyping

    Our own Ben Gremillion explains straightforward why prototyping is not just helpful, it’s practically necessary. If you’re not quite sold on the idea, or new to designing in general, this is a good piece to start

    3. Prototyping Your App

    In this helpful piece, Javier Cuello gives an overview of a basic prototyping process, exclusively for apps. Because app prototyping has different goals, even prototyping veterans would find this article helpful in translating the process to this new format.

    4. How to Turn Photoshop Mockups into Animated Prototypes

    Many designers ignore prototyping because they view them as wasteful. This is a misconception, as, with the right tools, prototypes can be built from existing documents and later progressed into new documents. Mateusz Makoseiwicz explains how to turn static Photoshop mockups into interactive, testable prototypes.

    5. Paper Prototyping

    Shawn Medero discusses everything a UX practitioner needs to know about paper prototyping. While this style has its obvious limitations, for certain purposes nothing is better. This all-inclusive guide explains how, when, and why to use paper over digital mediums.

    6. Hi-Fi Prototypes: Design is Our Muse, Code is Our Medium 

    Heather Daggett’s perspective on prototypes is something all UX practitioner’s can learn from. Her article gives a good examination of the theory of prototypes, and why she prefers high fidelity. While she suggests coding, even designers who aren’t familiar with this can still learn from topics like “The Prototyping Mindset.”

    7. Exploring the Problem Space Through Prototyping 

    One of the most reliable voices in UX design, Jared Spool pens an article that lives up to his reputation. His calculated analysis of prototyping reveals how to use it to explore the three dimensions of the problem spaces (technology, business, and users), plus breaks up prototype design into four phases.

    8. Creating Perfect User Flows for Smooth UX

    Marek Bowers wrote an excellent piece for our blog all about user flows, including how to make them and why they’re important. The article also goes into detail about creating user flows for prototyping, and if implemented can increase low-fidelity prototypes.

    9. How Prototyping is Replacing Documentation

    Getting philosophical about prototyping, Ian Schoen not only gives a concise description of the prototyping practice, he also analyzes its role in the future of design, and how modern prototypes are making more traditional deliverables obsolete.

    10. Rapid Front-end Prototyping with WordPress (Smashing Magazine)

    Daniel Pataki explains a very specific process of prototyping, using WordPress templates. While this process isn’t for everyone, he makes a few good points to support his favorite method, as long as you’re familiar with WordPress templates and emphasize the rapidity of prototyping.

    11.  3 Top Ways to Build a Website Prototype (CreativeBloq)

    Another piece from our team, this practical article by Jerry Cao dissects the 3 best methods for the common website prototype. This clear-cut article lists out the theory, process, and pros & cons of the most effective ways to build website prototypes, with real-life examples.

    12. 10 Tips for Prototyping Your Designs 

    This article gives ten standalone pieces of advice for prototyping in general. Almost common sense in their simplicity, and yet neglected enough to warrant reminding, these tips range from “make user interactions as simple as possible” to how to design for a prototype for a specific audience.

    13. Sketching in Code: The Magic of Prototyping

    For designers that know code, building coded prototypes can save a lot of time and manpower when it comes time for development. David Verba explains what to pay attention to when building a prototype in code.

    14. Prototyping Paper on iPhone

    Another article outlining a specific process, FiftyThree’s blog The Open Studio, explains their reasoning behind prototyping with the the iPhone app Paper. They explain personal case studies and why the app was effective, plus show screen examples and explain what they did and why.

    15. Design Better and Faster with Rapid Prototyping 

    In the age of Agile and Lean UX, designers are making more prototypes, and faster. Lyndon Cerejo’s classic article explains the rapid prototyping process: why making and testing more prototypes will ultimately have a better effect on the final product, and how to reduce waste at the same time.

    More Comprehensive Guides

    While these articles are nice for quick tips and refresher lessons, to fully understand all the nuances of prototyping, as well as the other documentations like wireframing and mockups, a more complete guidebook works better.

    If you’d like to know the finer details, download our UX Design Builder’s Bundle. This package offers 3 of our most popular design ebooks, the complete guides to Wireframes, Mockups, and Prototypes. Over 350 pages and notable real-life examples like Google Ventures and Apple are available in this single free bundle. Download it now.

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    Jerry Cao

    by Jerry Cao

    Jerry Cao is a content strategist at UXPin where he gets to put his overly active imagination to paper every day. In a past life, he developed content strategies for clients at Brafton and worked in traditional advertising at DDB San Francisco. In his spare time he enjoys playing electric guitar, watching foreign horror films, and expanding his knowledge of random facts. Follow him on Twitter.

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