Assure effective and strong user experiences through prototyping
Prototyping experiences is a new concept for many industries. The car industry uses concept cars but other companies are not always used to such an approach: we don’t often make concept toys, concept home appliances, concept phones or concept services.
The Experientia approach is firmly grounded in the belief that prototyping is the only method to arrive at solid and valuable user experiences.
Prototypes are 2D or 3D physical objects or screen visualisations implementing ideas about future products, services or systems that allow us to gain insights on what works, what doesn’t and why, at an early stage of the design process, and help us to understand their benefits, drawbacks or other issues related to their future use by consumers in the intended contexts.
In other words, we develop prototypes because they can be tested, and improved, and tested again, and improved. Prototyping at Experientia is an iterative process.
Our prototypes start with the very rough (“just enough prototyping”) and progressively become more refined: from the conceptual prototypes that only convey an idea, to the functional ones that test the interactivity.
Each successive iteration becomes better and better. People who are potential users—not designers and engineers—provide the essential feedback and guide the successive versions, and this participatory design leads to a final result that delivers real value to the end-user.
There are 3 main types of prototypes:
- Appearance prototypes: dynamic, visual, three-dimensional and environmental representations of what a product, service or application may look like. As opposed to a functional prototype, most functions actually don’t work, but their look and feel is simulated. Appearance prototypes or models are used to evaluate the initial customer experience or reaction, in-store experiences and to refine aspects of colour and material choices. Together with functional prototypes they are used for stage-gate evaluations in a business decision-making process.
- Conceptual prototypes: they can be interactive and enable us to test user acceptance, usage benefits and drawbacks by people in various contexts. They may take the form of paper, video, software or three-dimensional prototypes. These visual representations help to explain the concepts vision to various stakeholders – clients, users and colleagues.
- Functional prototypes: models or software solutions to demonstrate product or service functionalities and to test these before committing the project for further development. Three-dimensional modelling and prototyping fosters informal communication between the designers and engineers about technical feasibility of the concept products.