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Prototyping

Prototyping

Prototyping helps you to build ideas for policy options by testing a model and refining it through active user participation.

On this page:

Why you should use it
What it involves
What you will get out of it
Ideal circumstances for use
Limitations
References, guides and key readings

Why you should use it

Prototyping helps you to:

  • gain insights into what a policy change might be like for the people who will be affected
  • inform your design of policy options through user-led design and user feedback
  • test solutions without having to fully develop or build them
  • build confidence in policy options that involve trials or pilots, by identifying design flaws in advance
  • build evidence, momentum and public interest
  • generate new insights and understanding at low cost.

What it involves

  • The prototype could be a simple working model or a more detailed simulation. What matters is that people can test it to show you how it might work in the real world.
  • Rapid or touchpoint prototyping tests a single interaction between a service and user (for example a website, a form or an appointment with a professional). This can be used to examine single touchpoints within a journey map.
  • Experience prototyping tests a series of interactions between a service and user, and can be used to understand the broader experience a person might have (for example a customer service environment).
  • Prototyping can involve the use of images or cheap materials to create a simple physical model that enables you to walk through it with role play or storytelling (sometimes called tabletop prototyping). This process allows people to generate ideas and explore them from the perspective of end users.

What you will get out of it

  • A set of new insights and ideas on how to improve the prototype before implementation, including what doesn’t work.
  • Feedback from people who have knowledge of the policy area.
  • Feedback from actual or potential users or stakeholders who could be affected by change.

Ideal circumstances for use

  • You are at an early stage of developing policy.
  • The issue is not tightly defined and you have a lot of variables.
  • There are many possible solutions.
  • There is no consensus on the detailed design requirements.

Limitations

Prototyping is best applied when the general driver is known and agreed, to provide focus and structure to the process.

References, guides and key readings

An introduction to prototyping – UK Government’s Open Policy Making toolkit.

Prototyping framework – From Nesta, the ‘innovation foundation’.

The experience prototype tool – A case study video by Service Design Tools.

Prototyping – From usability.gov, an initiative of the US Department of Health & Human Services.

 

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Last updated: 
Wednesday, 16 August 2017

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