8 Common Prototyping Mistakes Plus Tips on How to Avoid Them

8 Common Prototyping Mistakes

Prototyping is one of the best ways to validate design ideas before time and resources are wasted on ideas that are not viable. While there is no single “perfect” way to create a prototype, there are common mistakes that designers make. These mistakes can affect the suitability of your prototype and slow down the design process. Here are eight common prototyping mistakes and tips on how to avoid them. 

Mistake # 1: Prototyping without a clear goal

The first prototyping mistake is starting a prototyping project without a clear goal of what it intends to achieve. Will the prototype be used to test a new website or test a specific flow such as the check-out flow? Who will be the stakeholders? What’s the timeline? This goal will act as the north star that guides the entire prototyping process and prevents the project from veering off course. Additionally, a good goal also defines what success looks like and how to measure it. Use frameworks such as SMART to make sure that your prototyping project has clear objectives. 

Mistake # 2: Prototyping too early 

Often, designers rush into the prototyping process before having a clear picture of the design solution they are going for. They are tempted to just open up a prototyping tool assuming that the design solution will take shape on its own. The problem is that prototyping tools force designers to focus on details such as layout and alignment instead of high-level design concepts.

By skipping the ideation process – or rushing through it – you can get locked in on the first design solution that you come up with, which may not be the best one. To avoid making this mistake, ensure that you do the following:

  • Use design thinking to brainstorm several design solutions before choosing the one you are going to prototype. For best results, involve internal stakeholders such as product managers in this process. 
  • Even when you are doing rapid prototyping, come up with sketches, mockups, or wireframes of different design solutions. 
  • Sketch or wireframe each of your main pages or screens before prototyping them. This will reduce the amount of time you spend on creating the prototype. 

Mistake #3: Using the wrong prototyping tool 

When choosing a prototyping tool, the first thing that you should consider is the level of fidelity that you require. However, most designers default to the prototyping tool that they know how to use or the one that their company provides. This leads them to create prototypes that are the level of fidelity that the tool provides, which is sometimes limited because of the image-based approach, instead of code-based.

If you need a low fidelity prototype, then you can use a whiteboard or pen and paper to create a paper prototype. If you need a high-fidelity prototype that looks real and is as interactive as the real thing, then UXPin is the best choice. It makes it easy for you to create life-like prototypes using advanced interactions, variables, and states. 

Whatever prototyping tool you choose, make sure that it aligns with your goals. Don’t create a super high fidelity digital prototype when a low fidelity one would have been enough or vice versa. 

Mistake #4: Using placeholder text and images instead of real data 

Prototypes should be as close to the final product as possible. When you use placeholder text such as Lorem Ipsum, it creates the impression that it’s just a test version of the product which disrupts the usability testing process. Plug in pre-existing content or rope in the writing department to provide you with copy and content for your rapid prototypes. 

UXPin has built-in data such as names, cities, and images that will make your prototypes look and feel like the real thing. No need to spend a lot of time looking for stock images or using Lorem Ipsum. You can also import your data as well. 

Mistake #5: Not prioritizing interactivity

A good prototype is made up of more than just simple page transitions. It should also provide a realistic user experience. When you are creating a prototype, ensure that its user interface responds to user manipulation the way the final design would.

You will miss out on the opportunity to get feedback on functionality, like how expandable menus work and conditional navigation flows when you don’t create interactive prototypes. Interactivity can give startups an edge over their competitors especially when used in mobile apps. Additionally, a fully clickable prototype will make the design handoff and development process easier. 

Mistake #6: Asking for feedback late in the process

One of the best ways to take your prototype to the next level is by asking for feedback from different people throughout the process. Show the prototype to other designers and ask for their feedback. You can also get feedback from developers and the product design team to gauge their gut reactions.

Avoid the common prototyping mistake of working in a silo until it is too late or too expensive to incorporate feedback. For best results, use the feedback to make changes to the next iteration of the prototype and ask for feedback often. 

Mistake #7: Getting too attached to a prototype

At the end of the day, one of the prototype’s purposes is to simply test ideas and get validation. However, some designers make the mistake of being too attached to a prototype and thinking that it has to be perfect. So they end up over-prototyping by spending too much time and effort on the prototype. If you are prone to get carried away, focus your prototyping workflow on designing the minimum viable interaction instead of adding all the bells and whistles. 

Mistake # 8: Being discouraged by failure

After user testing or stakeholder feedback, your design solution will either be validated or invalidated. While this can be disheartening, you should not view it as a failure. Prototyping is about testing ideas and assumptions and not all of them are validated. Instead, look at it as a learning opportunity that will improve your next prototype. 

Avoid prototyping mistakes

While there are no specific best practices of how to prototype, there are mistakes that can make you waste time and money. Avoiding these common mistakes will help you create a prototype that gets useful user feedback on time and on budget. Create life-like prototypes using UXPin’s prototyping tool today – sign up for a trial.

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