What is Low Fidelity Prototype?
Low-fidelity (lo-fi) prototyping is a quick and easy way to translate high-level design concepts into tangible and testable artifacts. The first and most important role of lo-fi prototypes is to check and test functionality rather than the visual appearance of the product.
Here are the basic characteristics of low-fidelity prototyping:
- Visual design: Only some of the visual attributes of the final product are presented (such as shapes of elements, basic visual hierarchy, etc.).
- Content: Only key elements of the content are included.
- Interactivity: The prototype can be simulated by a real human. During a testing session, a particular person who is familiar with design acts as a computer and manually changes the design’s state in real-time. Interactivity can also be created from wireframes, also known as “connected wireframes.” This type of prototype is basically wireframes linked to each other inside an application like PowerPoint or Keynote, or by using a special digital prototyping tool such as Adobe XD.
- Inexpensive. The clear advantage of low-fidelity prototyping is its extremely low cost.
- Fast. It’s possible to create a lo-fi paper prototype in just five to ten minutes. This allows product teams to explore different ideas without too much effort.
- Collaborative. This type of prototyping stimulates group work. Since lo-fi prototyping doesn’t require special skills, more people can be involved in the design process. Even non-designers can play an active part in the idea-formulation process.
- Clarifying. Both team members and stakeholders will have a much clearer expectation about an upcoming project.
- Uncertainty during testing. With a lo-fi prototype, it might be unclear to test participants what is supposed to work and what isn’t. A low-fidelity prototype requires a lot of imagination from the user, limiting the outcome of user testing.
- Limited interactivity. It’s impossible to convey complex animations or transitions using this type of prototype.