Selecting The Appropriate Fidelity for Your Prototype

by Gary Fain

Since the invention of 3D prototyping, prototyping services have become very popular. This is because of the widespread acceptance of a prototype.

For people who have the skill, they know that rapid prototyping services are not just a prototyping service, it is art.

For you to master the art of prototyping rapidly, a lot of things need to be put in place during the designing session.

One of such things that need to be put in place is the accurate fidelity level.

What are Fidelity Levels?

The fidelity level refers to the resemblance of the prototype to the final product. How much do they resemble? Are they far apart or is the final product a replica of the prototype?

1· Low Fidelity Level

The first step to prototyping is what some may call scribble, while others may term it sketching. This is the easiest part of the prototyping process. It involves just your pencil or pen and paper.

Sketching is known as a low-fidelity approach to prototyping. This is because anyone can do it. Sketching does not require any special tools or experience to accomplish, even though some are better at it.

This low fidelity level of prototyping is used at the earliest stages of designing. In the design cycle, sketching comes in the first stages.

Sketching is used to make mock designs at the early stages of the design cycle. It is a quick approach and even though the sketches may be rough, it is usually clear enough to understand.

Sketching or paper prototyping as some may call it is very effective when you are trying to actualize the concept and brainstorm.

It is an ideal way of analyzing the project before other phases begin. It can be done alone or as a team. There is no restriction as to where you need to be and you can have as many sketches as possible.

You can make your paper prototype in a sketchbook or on a whiteboard or flip chart using markers if it has to be shown and discussed as a team.

Because of the low vision and lack of content, users of low-fidelity levels focus on the use of the system rather than what it will look like.

2· Medium Fidelity Level

This is where Visio and Omnigraffle come into the picture. At the medium-fidelity level, computer-based tools are introduced into the prototyping process.

With the aid of computer-based tools, the fidelity increases on most aspects of the design. This gives the design a more defined shape and yields prototypes of a medium level.

On this level, task flows and scenarios are developed, which makes the process take more time and even require more effort to make. The tools help in creating a more refined look.

This refining process gives off better colors, an organized style, more defined edges, and shapes even though the prototype may choose to avoid working on that at this stage.

They choose to focus on how the prototype will work. An interactive simulation is the main goal at this point. Yet, the functional fidelity is still medium.

This level is best used to determine what the needs of the users are and if they have been met.


The visual fidelity, functionality fidelity, and content fidelity should be used as a measurement when making prototypes. Knowing how well these are will determine how much progress has been made.

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