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Rapid Prototyping

This method gives you an overview of the main steps involved in a rapid prototyping phase.


Suggested Time

Variable - from a few days to a few weeks depending on the concepts you are testing

Level of Difficulty


Materials Needed



Design team, customer/users

Process Phase

For human-centered designers, prototyping is an incredibly effective way to make ideas tangible, to learn through making, and to quickly get key feedback from the people you’re designing for. Rapid testing with real users can help you identify concepts that have potential for impact and spot ways to improve on early ideas. Prototyping isn’t about being precious. Simple, scrappy prototypes will not only save time, but also help focus testing on just the critical elements. The steps outlined below could take anything from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the challenge you’re solving. Follow them at a pace that works for you.


  1. After you have brainstormed ideas and bundled those ideas into concepts you’ll want to select a few of the most promising concepts to bring forward into testing. Use the Determine What To Prototype activity to help you select concepts and get clear on what you need to learn.
  2. Once you’ve determined what to prototype, the Build & Run Prototypes activity can help you find fast and scrappy ways to do your testing. This stage of the design process could take anything from a few days to a few weeks, depending on what you’re testing and how many rounds of prototyping you want to do.
  3. You’ll probably be testing several prototypes at once, so you’ll need to capture your findings in an organized in order to learn about what works and decide what to iterate upon or take forward, using the Prototype Report Card worksheet.
  4. Prototyping is an iterative process and so you may repeat this sequence several times over. Each time you will Integrate feedback and Iterate upon your solution, to improve and refine it. And with each new round of testing your learning goals will become more tightly focused, as you make decisions about what to take forward.