Prototyping as a planning tool

A paper prototype of a Wii U

When embarking on a new design project it’s very difficult to know exactly what needs to be done and how long it’ll take.

The temptation is to just start building something in an open ended fashion - just hacking away, and thinking “it’ll be done when it’s done”.

Sometimes this might work, but generally it’s much better to have a plan first.

I think the best process is to do lots of quick and dirty prototypes at the start of a project as a way of pinning down all the features you actually want to build.

This is a very open ended process and may take anywhere between a few hours and a few days. But at the end of it you effectively have a blue print for the project. This allows you to break down the project into tasks, and think about how long they’ll take to execute and who can potentially help you. It also acts as a way of galvanising everyone together, if they can see what they’re working towards.

This is much more time efficient than immediately leaping in and trying to build the final product without any planning.