From beginning to end, you need to follow the right procedures when creating a prototype. The prototyping process involves transforming ideas into tangible forms, whether they are on paper or digitally. The aim of building prototypes is to capture design concepts and test them out on users to gain a deeper understanding of them in various levels of fidelity.
Choosing fidelity should be one of the first decisions you make before beginning the design process. An evaluation of prototype fidelity measures how functional and detailed the prototype is. Having a prototype with the wrong fidelity will not help you accomplish your project’s goals.
In general, prototypes can be said to have the following four main characteristics:
- Representation: The actual prototype, whether it’s paper or mobile, or HTML or desktop.
- Precision: The precision of the prototype is measured by the level of detail it contains, either low-fidelity or high-fidelity.
- Interactiveness: The type of functionality the user has access to, such as fully functional, partially functional, or view-only.
- Completeness: An overview of the prototype’s lifecycle where some prototypes are quickly built, tested, discarded, and then replaced with improved versions.
Although there are two main types of prototypes – low fidelity and high-fidelity, in this article we will discuss mainly the high-fidelity prototypes and when can you use them.
Curious to know about lo-fi prototyping? Click here to read about low-fidelity prototypes and their uses.
Now without much further ado, let’s get started.
What are high-fidelity prototypes?
High-fidelity prototypes are computer-based interactive representations of a product that closely resemble its final version. In high-fidelity, the word ‘high’ or ‘hi’ refers to a comprehensive level that allows you to check the usability in detail and analyze user behaviour.
A hi-fi prototype is not only concerned with the aesthetics and symmetry of a product’s user interface (UI) but also with its user experience (UX), including user interactions, flow, and behaviour. Performing a certain task with a high-fidelity prototype can effectively gather real human performance data.
A prototype is mainly used in the usability testing of a product by obtaining feedback from target users. Performing tests on your product prior to launching it in the market will allow you to anticipate any issues or failures. Furthermore, interactive prototypes can be used for presentations and pitches.
Obtaining a high-fidelity prototype is a great way to communicate design and functionality to your team members, clients, or other stakeholders in the project before the software is functionally built.
High-fidelity prototypes are used for the following purpose:
- When you want to generate or validate design ideas
- When you communicate interaction design ideas
- For user and usability testing
- When you want to check how users and their behaviours are affected by transitions and animations
- When you want some kind of user survey or feedback to learn how your targeted users feel about your product
Types of high-fidelity prototypes
Now let’s talk about the types of hi-fi prototypes. Based on their ways of development there are 2 main types that can be considered.
- A high-fidelity prototype using mockups: Users can get a better idea of how the product will look and work by seeing a high-fidelity prototype using mockups. In addition to colour and content, every link and button should function as they would on a final product.
- A high-fidelity prototype using code: Prototyping is taken to a whole new level with a high-fidelity prototype built with code. Designers can build prototypes that mimic the final product by combining React and Storybook components. By using these prototypes, research teams improve usability studies, speed up product development, and reduce time-to-market.
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Advantages of using hi-fi prototype
Just like anything else, hi-fi prototypes come with an array of advantages of their own. Following listed are some of the perks that you can leverage.
- As it is the designers’ goal to make interactive prototypes as close to the graphical representations of the final products as possible hence everything is taken into consideration in advance. It includes everything from UI components, colours, information hierarchy, layouts, the effects of screens on users, and other interactive details.
- It is easier to collaborate with developers when they have access to high-fidelity interactive prototypes since they can gain a better understanding of how the application should run and behave.
- A prototype can save both time and money for the company when building something that may not be successful on the market.
- Project management can make accurate estimates of how much time is needed for implementing and testing quality assurance based on the high-fidelity prototype.
- A client who understands a high-fidelity wireframe does not need to be imaginative or visualize the concept. With high-fidelity prototypes, the rest of the company can gain a valuable understanding of the product early in the process, so they have a chance to do their jobs properly.
Drawbacks of high-fidelity prototypes
As there are two sides to a coin, just noting the advantages of hi-fi prototypes and ignoring the drawbacks can also be harmful to your product. The following are two of the most challenging points about these.
- As it takes more time to change the designs, making quick fixes between the users during a usability test becomes harder.
- Prototypes produced with high fidelity require more resources and money than prototypes with low fidelity.
When to use hi-fi prototypes
In order to successfully test a user flow, UX teams should start with lo-fi prototyping and then move to hi-fi prototyping once the mockups have been completed. In the initial round of usability testing, mockups must include clickable links and elements, colour, and content, but might not include animations, transitions, or interactions.
Prototypes with high fidelity can be used to test layouts and content as well as how page transitions and scrolling affect them. In addition to testing interactions, animations, and transitions, UX designers can also evaluate how they improve the user experience. It is crucial to finish the design process with high-fidelity prototypes before handing it over to engineering.
A high-fidelity prototype should not be built before the research has thoroughly tested a low-fidelity prototype and mockups have been created with content and colour options.
Product fidelity is what matters the most. In addition to testing ideas and assumptions, prototyping can be used to gain a better understanding of your users or to help your design team narrow down the options.
Getting to the success point requires hiring full-time developers with high-fidelity prototyping skills. Applify’s team of developers can guide you with the best expertise and experience that your product needs. You can contact us with your app idea and we will roll out the perfect prototype for you.