Don't Prototype Everything

Tips on how to make feedback work for you

Mariam El Hussein-02 / 05 / 2015-News

So youʼve spent hours, days, possibly months making the perfect prototype. Youʼre finally ready to get feedback from potential users. Youʼre confident in this one - this time, it's the one. Theyʼre going to love it.

But instead of praise, you get feedback.

Tons and tons of feedback. You get overwhelmed. You panic. How could you possibly incorporate all these changes?

Well, you donʼt really have to.

Feedback can be a gift or a curse, depending on how you look at it. Itʼs not necessarily either positive or negative. It's constructive criticism for you to consider, and follow, at your own discretion. Hereʼs a few tips on how to make feedback work best for you:

1. Keep it simple, stupid

Keep it simple. Start out with the good old pen and paper. Sketch your ideas and prototypes. As simple as this is, we often overlook itʼs importance. Jumping right into a full fledged, interactive prototype might sound tempting, because itʼs real progress... right?

However, progress in prototyping isnʼt measured by the complexity. Starting simple will help you foresee complexities in your design that can be avoided in the future. Also remember, pen and paper is not necessarily the “first” step - you can (and should) go back to the sketchpad throughout your design process, seeking and incorporating feedback constantly.

2. Donʼt build the “perfect” prototype

A prototype is a work in progress. Itʼs never perfect. The less attached you are to your prototype, the more open youʼll be about the feedback. After all, youʼve been working on this for a while. As much as you try to put yourself in your userʼs shoes, you might not be able to catch everything. Help your users have better experiences by letting them help you make better products.

Once you start to think more lightheartedly about it youʼll be able to see feedback in a whole new light.

3. Focused feedback

One question, one prototype - Which material wins? Asking the user to compare wood, plastic or metal.

When you ask for feedback, try to focus on a few things at a time. The best prototype answers one specific question, for example "which material wins?". Or maybe for a mobile app prototype you want to focus on the typography and on button locations for the next one. Focus can help you get more useful feedback. Asking the right questions can be difficult, but itʼs important to differentiate useful feedback from the “right” answers.

Ask less, but ask often - youʼll be able to get more organized. Coupled with prototyping often, youʼll be able to make more rewarding progress and panic less - a lot less.

4. Donʼt prototype everything

Just donʼt. Is feedback important? Yes. Do you have to listen to all of it at once? No. Itʼs really easy to fall into the trap of wanting to implement all the suggestions and improve everything. That might be easier, but it's more effective to do less at a time and gain more in the long-run. As mentioned above, be more focused. Break down your feedback into categories. This time focus on improving this, next that.

Donʼt prototype everything, and donʼt prototype it all at once. Prototype what is relevant now and save other elements for future releases.

What are your tips for feedback overload? We would love to hear about your best practices!