# Low Fidelity Prototype

# Phase: 🛠️ Problem solving
Focus: Prototype


Time commitment: 1 or more days, depending on complexity of prototype
Difficulty: Moderate
Materials needed: Prototyping tools (Sketch, InVision, code IDE, pen, pencil, potato stamp, whatever), feedback forum (physical or virtual)
Who should participate: User experience designers, product/project owners, developers
Best for: Converting agreed-upon directions for solutions into a "minimum believable product" that can be tested with users before moving to higher-fidelity prototyping

# About this tool

Low-fidelity prototyping — whether in the form of wireframes, paper prototypes, black-and-white prototypes or anything short of a high-fidelity, production-similar level — enable the team to quickly transform decisions about solutions into artifacts that can be rapidly tested and iterated upon with users before progressing to high-fidelity prototypes. In low-fidelity prototyping, your goal is to create a "minimum believable product": an item that contains just enough structure, substance and content to enable you to test your assumptions and move on.

Low-fidelity prototypes of any kind emphasize substance over style. Adding branding elements, colors, distinctive fonts and the like are, at this point in the process, primarily decoration and distraction — and in fact, adding these items can infer things to the user that will muddy up the results of whatever testing you do on your low-fi prototypes.

Low-fidelity prototypes also have the tremendous advantages of being easier to build, more nimble to rework, less costly in time and effort, and overall enable more rapid iteration without any members of the team risking becoming emotionally attached to visual design patterns. Often, it's helpful to start with a bare minimum in the form of wireframes or paper prototypes, test hypothesis, and only when those hypotheses are settled move on to the next level of detail.

Wireframes or paper prototypes are ...

  • Preliminary sketches of structure, placement of hierarchy
  • Free from colors, fonts or anything else that might be a distraction to the people evaluating it
  • Easy to rework quickly in response to testing
  • Often look intentionally sketch-y or cartoon-y to emphasize to the viewer that they are experimental work in progress

Low-fidelity prototypes are ...

  • Somewhat (or even just slightly) more sophisiticated that wireframes or paper prototypes; they may contain details that enable you to test more sophisticated assumptions
  • More likely to include a variety of pages/screens and mechanisms for moving between them
  • Still not burdened by color, typography, or branding, but more likely to indicate details of overall page structure and hierarchy than wireframes

Keep in mind that any of these prototype styles could be made using a variety of tools; use what you're the most fluent in. This could mean testing prototypes built in simple HTML/CSS, PowerPoint, Photoshop, or pen and pencil — whatever enables you to work the most quickly.

Finally, remember that many of your prototypes will fail in testing; that's precisely why they're prototypes! If you're in a position of leadership or in direct influence of leadership, be sure to continue to convey the message that even "failed" prototypes represent progress.