What You Should Know About the Fidelity of a Prototype

by Gary Fain
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3D prototyping is used to develop products with different fidelities depending on the prototyping design and goal and the available materials. Prototype fidelity refers to how much a prototype looks like the final product. A prototype doesn’t have to resemble the actual object completely. How it appears at the end of the prototyping process is determined by the designer’s end goal. We expound on prototype fidelity below.

Prototype Fidelity

Fidelity types vary in certain factors like content, visual design, and interactivity. Prototypes can be divided into high fidelity and low fidelity prototypes. Both types have different benefits and drawbacks and apply different techniques too.

a. High Fidelity Prototypes

The prototypes have no difference from the actual product; they are identical. The visual design and details seem real and resemble the object. The graphics and spacing used are similar to that of the real app. The prototype’s content is actual, and how it behaves is realistic, making it difficult to tell them apart from the true product. This happens when the designer is certain of what he is creating and is also approved by investors.

Advantages

Since the products seem real, the interaction between them and the users is natural. It allows for proper and meaningful feedback from the users during testing. Investors, stakeholders, and clients understand better what the product does or how it operates.

Disadvantages

High fidelity prototypes have more advantages and are of good quality than low fidelity prototypes. However, these characteristics come at a cost; thus, producing them is expensive.

What are the Techniques Applied in High Fidelity Prototyping?

It employs two techniques that are digital and coded prototypes. Digital prototypes are made using special tools and create advanced animations and effects using specific software. Coded prototypes have no major differences from the final products.

b. Low Fidelity Prototypes

It’s easy to tell which part is as a result of low fidelity prototype from the final product. There is a clear difference, and only a few characteristics from the actual product can be traced, for example, visual hierarchy and shape. A designer can change the design of the prototype manually to enhance interactivity. They are created to give an idea of how the actual product will behave or function. Unlike high fidelity prototypes where all the content used is real, only the crucial elements are used to make low fidelity prototypes.

Advantages

The prototypes are fast and easy to develop approximately 5 to 10 minutes. The development process is cost-friendly; hence more clients can access it. No particular skill is required in low fidelity prototyping, so anyone can participate in the design process by giving ideas for creating unique objects.

Disadvantages

Interactivity and user testing feedback are limited. The designers must use a lot of imagination since they are not sure what they are meant to do.

What are the Techniques Applied in Low Fidelity Prototyping?

Two kinds of techniques are used: clickable wireframes and paper prototyping. Clickable wireframes organize a page’s elements by acting as a visual illustration of the product page. Paper prototyping helps to create a digital interface for an object without software.

Conclusion

The prototyping process and end goal influence the fidelity or accuracy of your prototype. Identify the best method to work with and determine your outcome before starting the designing process.

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