UX prototyping: 5 questions to ask yourself before you start

Create a clear problem statement to help drive clarity on how you’ll approach your UX prototype.

1. Is the design problem clear?
If you can distill your problem into a concise design problem statement, great! Design problem framing is a critical skill for designers, and since you’ll be solving many design problems throughout your design career, this is an excellent skill to master. 

If you’re unclear on the design problem, you’ll need to understand user needs or the business problem further. You can do this by conducting more user research or reviewing data. 

Take a look at the Lean UX Problem Statement to drive clarity.

UX problem statement format

The lean problem statement is an excellent example of how to distill critical problems you’re trying to solve and the target audience you’re trying to address. Sometimes, a design problem is broad, with many problems to solve. This is where you’ll need to prioritize the issues to focus on.

Real-life example of a problem statement in action 

For example, I was working on a payment product with a few problems: the first was trust, the second problem was that the product wasn’t widely available, and the third was that people didn’t understand how to use it.  

There were a lot of problems to solve, and all of them were serious and overlapped. As a team, we decided to tackle the trust problem first since that’s the most critical factor when transacting money online.  

We refined the definition of trust because trust can mean a lot of different things in the e-commerce and payment context. Trust can tell that they don’t trust the payment will go through, that someone will hack their account, or that they won’t get their money back if they transact with a bad actor. 

We defined the collective approach to trust as ‘trust signals,’ we found areas in the flows and screens to add small touches of trust messaging and iconography to enhance the trust experience. 

The enhanced problem statement was this: 

UX problem statement example

Our hypothesis was that if there was more trust in the experience, people would increase their transactions. A clear problem statement helps define the experience you should focus your design and prototype efforts.

2. Have you brainstormed different ideas?

There are multiple ways to approach a design problem, so you’ll want to generate as many ideas as possible. If you’ve ideated so much, your brain is sore, that’s awesome. If you haven’t spent at least 10-15 minutes brainstorming different ideas, grab a coworker to help you think out of your zone.

[Photo by Jud Mackrill on Unsplash]

3. Is your UX prototype the right fidelity?
The prototype’s fidelity is determined by what you want to learn, how much time you have, the experience itself, and where you are in the design process. 

If you’re designing a new product, you can stay at low fidelity as you test out different design concepts and move to high fidelity when the idea is refined. Low-fidelity prototypes are easy to generate and low-cost.

Low-fidelity prototypes are great for scenarios where you want to test out fundamental interactions, generate many ideas quickly, or test out flows. Check out this LinkedIn article on low and high-fidelity prototypes.

If the design requires understanding a complex interaction pattern, start with a medium to high-fidelity prototype to get the correct type of feedback. Just so you know, high-fidelity prototypes need more time to create, so please keep that in mind.

ux prototype

4. Do you know what questions you want answered?
Prototyping is part of the user-centered design process. You should approach the UX prototyping process with a desire to learn and understand what’s working and what’s not in your design. You should have a list of questions that you want answered to help create a better design.

UX prototype questions

5. Does your prototype address user goals?
You’re on the right track when you have a firm understanding of the design problem and your users. If prototype tasks are unrealistic or don’t represent user goals, then it’s not likely your design will land the way you intend. Your prototype should fulfill the needs of the user in a usable form, so you’ll want to ensure that it does.

In summary, clearly understanding the design problem, generating multiple ideas through brainstorming, and choosing the appropriate fidelity for the prototype will help you get the answers you need to refine the user experience.

Once you get comfortable with the prototype, you can try the RITE Testing method. 

Learn new skills today. Check out my interaction design course on UX prototyping.

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