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Level Up Your Product Design – Understand the Prototype Definition

Complete guide to prototyping, including what a prototype is, the types, why it is important and what it looks like, etc.

Year 1: I need a pen.

Year 2: I need a pen that writes in 6 different colors.

Year 3: I need a pen with invisible ink.

Year 4: I need a pen with all the above and a torch.

That's how fast the world of product development is changing. Every year, we need something new and improved that meets our ever-evolving needs. It is why maintaining success in today's competitive market is a challenge. That's where prototyping makes things easier. 

But what is prototyping? And why it matters in product design?

Let's take a look at prototype definition, benefits, and types. Stay with us if you want to learn how to take your product game to the next level.

Prototyping 101

Table of Contents
What is a Prototype?
Different Types of Prototypes and Examples
Why is Prototyping Important in Product Development?
Useful Tools for Prototyping

What is a Prototype?

Imagine this: you have a mind-blowing idea for a new product that can address your customers' pain points. You're confident it'll sell and can't wait to get it out.

But there's a roadblock: ideas and real-world products are on two different levels.

You can't launch a product without testing it first.

This is where prototyping comes in.

Prototype definition: A prototype is a scaled-down version of your actual product. It's a physical or digital model you can use to test and evaluate your product's design and usability. All before it goes into production so you can identify and fix design flaws, save time, effort, and a whole lot of money. Depending on the field they're used in, there are different types of prototypes.
You’ll find more information on it below.

Different Types of Prototypes and Examples

Prototypes are used in various fields, from scientific research to software development. Since each field varies from the other in various aspects, the types of prototypes used for the products in these fields can’t all be the same.

For instance, in the software development field, prototype definition is more focused on the interactivity of digital products like apps and websites.

In product design, it's more about physical models that help test the ergonomics, functionality, and performance of a product. It could be any physical product, from shoes to cars.

Nonetheless, there are four distinct types of prototypes. We will look at each one in detail, along with an example, so you can better understand the prototype definition and its uses.

Feasibility Prototypes

As the name suggests, feasibility prototypes test the feasibility of a product.

The purpose is to answer three main questions:

  • Can the product be produced with the existing technology?

  • Is it possible to produce it in the budget?

  • How long will the production process take?

Example: A company wants to develop a self-driving delivery robot. They'll probably build a prototype to validate their concept's feasibility. It’s easier to create a prototype than blow the budget on a flawed, real product directly. Save resources, guys.

Low-Fidelity User Prototypes

A low-fidelity user prototype is a basic representation of a product or system. As basic as paper sketches and wireframes without UI/UX elements. You don’t need any graphics or animation. Low-fidelity prototypes focus on a product’s core functionality and user interactions.

Example: A company developing an app for recipe sharing will create a low-fidelity prototype using paper and sketches. The purpose is to test how well users will interact with the interface. 

Low Fidelity User Prototype

High-Fidelity User Prototypes

It is a detailed version of the low-fidelity prototype. High-fidelity prototypes look and feel like the final product. They include visuals, animation, and sound effects for a better user experience.

What does the prototype look like in this case?

Example: A high-fidelity prototype of the recipe-sharing app will have UI elements such as buttons, menus, and screens. The users can perform primary functions like posting a recipe, commenting on other recipes, and searching for recipes.

High Fidelity User Prototype

Live-Data Prototypes

There are prototype types for businesses offering online services or developing software applications. These are the live-data prototypes - an interactive model of a system that uses real-time data.

Example: A team working on a weather forecasting application will need a live-data prototype. This prototype helps the team assess the app's performance and fix bugs or performance issues.

Why is Prototyping Important in Product Development? 

Why Is Prototyping Important

We hope by now you have your answer to "What does prototyping mean?" and understand the four distinct types of it.

Now, we need to understand why prototypes are important. Let's get to it. 

Find Flaws Before It's Too Late

Abstract concepts might have flaws. If you introduce them to your audience without identifying and fixing them, your company will earn itself a bad reputation and lose a ton of money. Prototyping saves you from embarrassment and losses. It helps you refine your product.

Better Efficiency and Effectiveness

Who makes prototypes? Developers, designers, and engineers. They put their heads together to complete the task. It means prototyping is like a common language between the stakeholders involved in the product development process. This shared understanding promotes effective communication and collaboration. Plus, it ensures that everyone is working towards a common goal.

Risk Mitigation and Cost Reduction

Product development is an expensive process. From the cost of technology to raw materials and time, a lot goes in. If a company mass produces a product with issues, they'll lose a lot of resources. It is risky and costly. And so, prototyping is so important. It helps overcome a product's technical challenges and design flaws without investing the entire budget. 

Gathering User Feedback

User feedback is of crucial importance to any business. It helps the company understand user preferences and requirements. They can later use this information to improve their product's features and make it more user-centric. 

But how can a business get feedback on something that's still in the developmental cycle? 

Through prototypes. 

Useful Tools for Prototyping

Okay, we get it. Prototypes are pretty amazing tools. They help businesses in various aspects. But how to make prototypes?

Since prototyping is all about attention to detail and refinement, you'll need tools to do the job for you. These tools ensure accuracy and efficiency.

Here's a list of some prototyping tools:

  • Sketch

  • Axure

  • Adobe XD

  • Figma

  • InVision

Each tool comes with a range of features, such as drag-and-drop functionality, interactive elements, design templates, and real-time collaboration capabilities.

However, if you're searching for a tool that beats all the rest in terms of innovation and ease of use, we recommend MioCreate. Unlike the rest, it supports several different prototyping types, including wireframes for low-fidelity prototypes and high-fidelity interactive prototyping.


MioCreate's collaboration feature will bring your team together no matter where in the world they are. You'll also find a free gallery of buttons, stickers, and other UX tools to improve your prototyping experience.


If you’ve understood the prototype definition, you’re all set to improve your design game. Prototypes allow you to fine-tune your products. With these close-to-reality models, you can communicate your design's feasibility, usability, and performance to the company's decision-makers and get your customers’ feedback, all without any big investments and huge losses.

But how will you create a prototype? 

Of course, you'll need a tool. While there are many tools you can use, MioCreate is your best choice. It is innovative, supports different prototyping types, and has a fantastic user interface. It makes collaborating and communicating with your teammates a breeze too. Try it to take your product design game from nay to yay!

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