“If a picture is worth 1000 words, a prototype is worth 1000 meetings.”

                                                                                                          -Tom and David Kelley

The word prototype comes from the Greek words protos + typos meaning “the first impression”.

But today prototypes aren’t just limited to first impressions. 

Prototypes have now evolved to include a wide range that showcases a close rendering of the product you are ultimately going to launch.

In the previous article, we discussed Paper Prototype. The following statement tells us the importance of Paper Prototypes:

“Prototyping is the first step of bringing your idea to reality, and paper prototyping lies before that step.”

This article talks about the next step in design thinking – Interactive Prototyping. Interactive prototypes are to be built after building and testing various iterations of non-interactive prototypes (sketch, paper, wireframe, etc)

What’s important to note here is that we are talking about various iterations of
non-interactive prototypes before we jump onto interactive prototypes. As we refine the non-interactive prototypes to reach a finer version of the interface we move up the design ladder.

The following illustration of exploration vis-a-vis prototyping fidelity will explain why:

vis-a-vis prototyping

Non-interactive prototypes focus on the interface and not on the interaction. They do not test the performance but test the usability.

Adding interactivity to the static interface represented by the non-interactive
prototype helps us test the performance of the interface.

An interactive prototype is a closer version of the final product. It is highly
functional, costly, and takes longer to build compared to non-interactive prototypes. It mimics the interactivity that users can have with the final product.



  • Gives the ability to test on multiple devices.
  • Ensures the freedom to explore design and interactivity
  • Low risk.
  • Ideal for user testing.
  • Developer friendly.
  • Better representation of the final product


interactive prototype

Adding interactivity to prototypes generally requires the use of one or more tools.
These tools assist us in bringing the prototype closer to the final version. They allow multiple iterations until the product reaches a point where the developer and the user can meet.

There are a plethora of tools online and choosing one out of these abundant choices is not an easy task. Multiple factors are to be considered before landing on the right tool.

However, it’s important to remind ourselves that the design is the primary focus and not the tool. Tools exist to support the design process and not the other way round.


  • Cost: As a freelance or an organization this is one of your primary concerns while incorporating any new methodologies. But, with the abundance of resources available online the one benefit we all get is competitive pricing. Some tools even offer services for free. 
  • Collaboration: If you are working on a project as a team sharing becomes one of the most important factors to consider. Every team member will have his/her own perception about various details involved in a design. The tool under consideration should allow sharing and syncing of team member’s activities.
  • Design Integration: As discussed before, our primary focus is the design and not the tool. The tools exist to support the design process. Each design is unique and the tools used may vary
    as per the requirements of the design. 
  • Learning Curve: Before investing time and money into a tool it’s important to consider the time taken to learn the functionalities of the tool. Is it considered easy to adapt by the designers? Is the design timeline getting negatively affected due to the time taken to learn it?
  • Fidelity: The kind of outcome or feedback you are looking for in the design will determine the fidelity and goals of the prototype. And the fidelity of the prototype will determine the
    tool used to build this prototype. There are 3 types of fidelities: Low, Medium, and High. Low fidelity helps
    you test the ideas (Paper Prototype). Medium fidelity helps you test the interface and High fidelity helps you test the interaction. 


Build Non-Interactive Prototypes based on Ideation
and Scenarios.

Iterate through them based on user feedback until you
reach the most refined version.

 Add Interactivity to the finalized Non-Interactive
Prototype to build an Interactive Prototype, with the use of prototyping tools. 


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This article is a part of a series of articles that explain design thinking. To read other articles in this series check
out Art Attackk other blog posts.

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