Rapid Prototyping


  • To turn ideas into reality, learn through making them, and quickly get key feedback from the people you’re designing for.
  • To build enough of your innovation to test your idea, so that you can improve and adapt it to feedback after every version.

When To Run This

You have an idea that you want to test so see if it works and if it answers the needs of your users.


2 - 3 hours


  • Ideas and Concepts


  • Markers
  • Paper
  • Post-its 
  • Craft supplies (choose according to your technique)



  • Refine your idea and break it down into a list of variables you want to test.

  • Define your test audience. Think about who you are designing for and the group you’d like to test with.

Action It:Action It:

  • Create the prototype. It doesn’t need to be perfect, the aim is to make something that’s good enough to communicate the idea you want to test.

    Here are some prototyping techniques — you can use one or a combination of them.

    1. Use the Future State Storyboarding tool to warm up the prototyping session by imagining a scenario in which the innovation is being used. 
    2. Role Playing - Suitable for intangible services (e.g play out the scenario of an information desk with a visitor).
    3. Cardboard models - Suitable for tangible products (e.g a new basket for shopping for groceries etc).
    4. Lego Serious Play/play doh/craft materials - Suitable for physically modeling your Future State. It doesn’t need to be full scale (e.g using play doh models or Lego to show a new layout of a post office).
    5. “Genie in a bottle” script - Quickest way to test both tangible and intangible services. Make a conversational script with decision trees for users to go through.

      Example of testing out an ATM machine with just a script:

      1. You: Welcome to Hypothetical Bank! I can do three things for you today: Withdraw, Check Balance, and Cardless Cash. What would you like to do?
      2. Tester: I would like to make a Withdrawal please.
      3. You: OK, please insert your Hypothetical Bank Card and Key in your pin. 
      4. Tester: Here is my card. I’ve entered my pin number. etc.
    6. Sketch/Paper Prototype - Sketch out your website prototype or mobile screens on pieces of paper for your testers to “click” through them.
  • Test your idea by giving your prototype to your audience, and ask for feedback that relates back to your list of test variables while they use it. See the Interviews tool for tips on asking great questions.

  • Improve your idea based on the feedback.

  • Repeat the test. An idea isn’t a failure as long as you're learning from each version.

Next Steps:Next Steps:

  • If you need creative ideas on how to address the feedback, run a Rapid Ideation session.

  • If you want to get more detailed or accurate feedback, consider doing Live Prototyping.



  • A prototype could be anything. Encourage the team to get crafty if they are stuck. 
  • Refer to the Storyboarding tool if ideas need to developed more before you start prototyping.


It's Going Well When:

  • A variety of ideas are presented 
  • Elements of each are included and taken forward
  • People are getting excited about parts of the idea

Watch Out For:

  • Prototypes that stay too close to the usual approach - Stimulate the team by asking questions like, “how would you design this if you were Apple?”, “what if you only had $1000 to implement this?”, “what if you were designing for someone with impairments?”