Rapid Prototyping

What is rapid prototyping?

Rapid prototyping is the process of creating lower-fidelity prototypes with multiple fast iterations based on user feedback.

It is not meant for refining ideas, but for identifying good ideas and weeding out bad ones. The model for rapid prototyping involves designing, testing, refining, and repeating, which embeds user feedback throughout the design process and aligns the product definition with the user’s perspective.

Paper prototyping is one possible method for rapid prototyping, and guerrilla usability testing can work well when teams have limited usability testing resources.

A man checking his phone while standing next to his bike.

What do you need for rapid prototyping?


  • 5 Minutes – 6 Hours (depending on fidelity)


It depends on the level of fidelity of your prototype. Here are some options:

  • A pen and a piece of paper
  • Design software, paper, and a printer
  • Prototyping software of your choice

How do you rapid prototype?

A group of people at a table sketching and taking notes.

Step 1: Identify user needs

Gather user needs from stakeholders, test users, and/or market research.

Step 2: Decide what to rapid prototype

Identify a function, feature, or task flow to prototype.

Step 3: Design prototype

Create a testable prototype using low-fidelity designs to refine ideas. This could be anything from a sketch on a napkin to a fully interactive, high-fidelity, digital prototype.

Step 4: Test with users

Show your prototype to test users you can find quickly, even if they are coworkers, strangers or acquaintances.

Step 5: Modify prototype

Address usability issues in your designs and prototype based on the feedback you receive.

Step 6: Continue rapid prototyping, testing, and refining

Test this new version of your design and continue iterating. As your design’s issues are resolved, move up to higher-fidelity methods to finalize the design.

Tips for great rapid prototyping

  • If you’re struggling to find users to test with, go to a coffee shop and buy people coffee if they’ll test your prototype.
  • Only build as much of a prototype as you need in order to test what you need to test. Do not be a perfectionist. The idea is multiple iterations done fast and cheap.
A woman taking notes while video chatting to another woman.