High Fidelity and Low Fiedelity Prototyping

Magritte's painting "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" ("This is not a pipe") continues to be the source of delicious musings on art and semiotics almost a century after Magritte created the series of paintings called The Treachery of Images .

The point here is that the prototype is not the application, and keeping this in mind can guide the user interaction team in developing a prototype that is rich and effective, yet not so involved as to introduce complexities to the project.

We are witnessing a dramatic change in the landscape of prototyping tools available to practitioners, and with the tools, business acceptance of and demand for increased visualization of the proof of concepts before development begins.

Ideally, the prototyping process should be continuous and evolutionary, meaning that it is possible to increment the prototype file increasingly adding depth and specifications. So it is a matter of developing a prototyping process that is effective and appropriate to the point of project. Typically, low fidelity works well at the very early days of the design process:

  • Sketches on paper, cards, post-its, etc.
  • Sketches in Powerpoint, Visio, Illustratior, etc.

The purpose of these quick sketches is mostly to provide the designer with an initial handle of the concept, quickly experiment with approaches.

To be continued here.

* As a side note, a search for 'this is not a pipe' yields a result set that demonstrates some of the issues Walter Benjamin brought up in 'The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility'. Which image is the pipe of 'This Is Not A Pipe'?