Prototypes are low or hi fidelity models that resemble the forms and functions of the product you are creating. There are static versions which tend to be paper and functional higher fidelity prototypes which gives the user a realistic mock-up.
##Why use this exercise?
Rapid prototyping allows for the team to start testing ideas and features quickly. By gaining valuable feedback from users earlier on in the process it helps the designers and development team sync their project building goals.
When there is more time involved and main features have been established, functional protypes which are coded help us test our product and see how users interact with it.
Prior to starting the prototype we do determine the purpose of creating this mock-up. Things to consider when determining the use.
*Is it for usability testing of a specific feature? *Is it to communicate the design to a client? *Is it to help guide the internal team? *How much time do you have to create a prototype?
Once the user flow or key feature you want to test is determined you are ready to get started.
*Rapid protypes should be that, rapid. Paper and wireframes work best. *They should be created quickly and show simple versions of the elements that create the structure of your product. *Use wireframing techniques to build your prototype. This can be sketched or digital. *Establish the questions you would like to ask the tester. *Let the tester give you their first impression prior to asking the questions. *Go through the script and user flow you would like to test. See (user testing)
##How long does this take?
Considering if you are creating a low or high fidelity prototype it can take 4 hours or more.