The differences between low-fi and hi-fi prototyping

The differences between low-fi and hi-fi prototyping
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In our material about prototyping tools we tried to group them for low- and hi-fidelity techniques are allowed in those tools. You could find some definitions for lo-fi and hi-fi prototyping (along with ‘rapid’, HTML and paper prototyping) in our comprehensive UI/UX design guide. But today we will look closer to the differences between low-fi and hi-fi prototyping.

FYI. Here’s a short reminder about:

  • Low-fidelity prototyping
    Low-fidelity prototypes are rough representations of concepts that help to validate those concepts early on in the design process. In a nutshell, this is a raw presentation of our ideas. Low-fidelity prototyping is usually used by design teams to emphasize interactions and thoughts.
  • High-fidelity prototyping (Interactive prototyping)
    Unlike low-fidelity prototyping, high-fidelity prototyping requires more time, specialized skills and resources. A high-fidelity prototype is a computer-based interactive representation of the design in its closest resemblance to the final version in terms of details and functionality. It usually presents usability and realism all in one.

The differences between low-fi and hi-fi prototyping

Low-fidelity prototypes are simple and low-tech concepts. But it has its pros:

  • You can more focus on design and ideas.
  • You can quickly redo part of the design based on customer comments in real time.
  • It’s accessible to everyone.

High-fidelity prototypes are highly functional and interactive. They are often used in the later stages to test usability and identify issues in the workflow. Their strong points are:

  • It’s more familiar to users.
  • You can dive deep into a specific component (like flow, visuals, engagement, or navigation) during user testing.
  • You can set clear expectations with developers in the early stages of how much time will be needed to build your prototype and have a finished product.

The most important thing to remember is you shouldn’t default to the same level of fidelity when prototyping. It’s always depending on the development/designing stage and the product’s features and goals. It’s as reading the same book all the time. Change! Read more about differences between the two most common prototyping types in Emily Esposito’s post here.

Software development discovers new ways to use the design for various products. Remember that “details are not the details, they make the design.”

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