|Why prototype?||Are you are a true genius, remarkably talented, highly
artistic, creative and incredibly insightful? Can you withstand many
failures to the occasional success? If so, you may (every now and
then) have a design vision that you can immediately implement into an
effective and appealing system.
However, if you are like the rest of us you will discover that good design is hard work: full of wrong directions, misconceptions, and pitfalls. Good designs rarely appear immediately, but evolve from careful understanding of what customers really need, from brainstorming many possibilities, from evaluating these possibilities, and from progressively refining them.
Sketching (see Your Sketchbook) of crude screen drawings and sequences are often effective first cut prototypes. Yet pencil sketches are static. You can develop interactive prototypes to serve as an interactive sketch that brings design possibilities to life. These include pictive displays, on-line system mock-ups, and even partial system implementations. Early prototypes help you brainstorm ideas, variations, and evoke critique from peers and customers. Later prototypes help you refine your design ideas, explore them in detail with customers, consider their aesthetics, fine tune interaction details, test them with actual people, and so on.
Prototypes are one of the cornerstones of interaction design. If you don't prototype, you are an interface hack, not a designer.
|Why a prototyping kit?||A prototyping kit is a set of supplies that will help you rapidly work on your ideas. While the simplest kit contains just paper and pencil to capture design ideas (e.g., your sketchbook), you will need your own specialized tools to help you refine these ideas. Having these tools handy means that you can work on your ideas, rather than spend your time finding a piece of paper and other supplies. Just as a carpenter keeps their toolbox of tools readily available so he/she can get on with the job, so should you.|
|Materials for paper prototyping||Prototyping kits come in many shapes and forms. I keep the
following supplies in my kit. All supplies are held in an artist's
portfolio case, so I can store my prototypes safely afterwards. Most
supplies are available at the bookstore or a stationary store. Wander down the art supply section of the bookstore for other
prototyping supply ideas.
|Electronic prototypes||At some point, you will want to prototype electronically.
There are many good (and sophisticated) tools to let you do this.