What are low-fidelity prototypes?
Low-fidelity prototyping is a fundamental phase in the web design process. Ideas and concepts are presented using simple lines and shapes (e.g. boxes for content blocks, circles for photos, etc.), without concern for aesthetics or detailed content. Although a prototype doesn’t look like the final product, even a simple conceptualization allows everyone on the team (and external stakeholders) to align on the direction for design.
Are you looking for a fast, easy way to communicate your web design ideas without worrying about color, fonts, and formatting? Then you need low-fidelity prototyping. It enables you to turn simple design ideas into visuals that can be presented to stakeholders for review and feedback. This simple method of prototyping is especially useful in the early stages of a website project.
Benefits of low-fidelity prototyping
Prototyping is crucial for creating successful user experiences. Early-stage prototyping allows designers to present ideas for review and feedback. Here are a few key benefits of low-fidelity prototyping.
Fast and inexpensive
Low-fidelity prototyping can be done with pen and paper or an online design tool, making it a low-cost option. And, depending on the concept being communicated, it can be done in as little as a few minutes. This gives more time for designers to iterate and explore various ideas without expending too much time or effort.
Targeted focus on layout and concepts
Don’t worry about aesthetics, functionality, or interactive features during the prototyping phase. Your prototype is only intended to communicate design ideas. Subsequent design phases will bring the ideas to life.
Revisions are easy
Low-fidelity prototyping makes revisions a breeze. When you receive feedback or a request for a design change, edits can be made in a matter of minutes. They can even be done on the fly in front of team members, clients, or stakeholders. These quick revisions not only save time, effort, and money compared to those of more complex designs, but they mitigate the risk of overinvesting in design without the approval of concepts.
Everyone can access the prototype
Because low-fidelity prototyping doesn’t require a specific design skillset or artistic ability, any team member or stakeholder can contribute ideas. This collaborative approach can also draw more valuable feedback. It’s said that it’s always better to get feedback from internal stakeholders during a low-risk design phase, rather than waiting until the project is further along.
Examples of low-fidelity wireframes
Simple, hand-drawn wireframes
When designers have ideas and concepts in mind, they can create a sketch wireframe using pen and paper or an online design tool like Invision. They can draw wireframes anytime and anywhere they want – in a meeting with clients or during a live presentation with stakeholders.
Detailed, hand-drawn wireframes
We can also do a more detailed hand-drawn wireframe. This is done with the same tools as the simple version, but the prototype includes more detailed drawings, concepts, or content.
Responsive wireframes have added functionality, allowing a user to click on certain elements to experience the user journey. For example, in a responsive wireframe for a web page, the menu could be labeled and navigable to allow a user to click from page to page. This gives all stakeholders a clearer understanding of concepts and the overall flow.