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What is a High FIdelity, Interactive Prototype?

Typically when people talk about a prototype they are referring to an interactive prototype of some kind which allows users to navigate from page to page and use functionality such as drop down menus.

There are a variety of different ways to create an interactive prototype. We’ve seen clickable prototypes in PowerPoint, PDF documents and even MS Word. But there are a variety of specialist prototyping tools available on the market that are specifically designed to make prototyping easy. Check out Blasamiq, Axure and Mockingbird for just a few examples.

Advantages of website prototyping

Essentially, a website prototype allows the project stakeholders to see what the final product will look like early in the project lifecycle. There are many reasons to do this: to gain agreement on what is in and out of scope, to generate support or even investment for the project, to test theories and ideas regarding layout and structure of the website, and more importantly to gather user feedback through usability testing. Typically a website prototype will go through a few rounds of usability testing where it is constantly refined until the project team is confident it can progress to the next phase of development.

A lot of people ask why they should spend the time and effort creating a prototype, when you can just go straight into development. The answer will always depend on the project, but typically the benefits of prototyping are in saving time and money. We’ve seen plenty of clients come to us a couple of months after launch saying that what they had hoped the site would do, isn’t working. When we test it with users we then find that some big assumptions were made at the start which were never tested, and unfortunately those assumptions were found to be wrong.



The key reason for creating the prototype is to get feedback from stakeholders and users to make sure it is going in the right direction. It allows you to fix any areas which receive negative feedback, and it allows for discussion about what is really needed in the final build and what could be removed. This can save a huge amount of money in development later on in the project.

In addition, we find that a website prototype can be an excellent specification document for designers and developers. A lengthy functional specification document is often difficult to interpret and difficult to engage with. But a fully interactive prototype allows them to visualise what is needed quickly and easily.


"It’s easier to use an eraser on the drafting board, than a sledgehammer at the construction site."
– Frank Lloyd Wright