Therefore it’s really important to measure if the prototype reached enough detail level to test with real users. By the way, this level can occur in several aspects the prototype (navigation, data, interaction, visual, acceptance and metrics). The normal way to think about prototypes are to consider that the more detailed it is more value it will deliver, but investing time on each aspect can grow the cost of the product before testing and make you fail bigger and later. Because of it, It is really important to know what exactly we want to validate of the product, to be able to choose what parameter of the product will have higher fidelity.
Low navigation fidelity mean that you don’t need to validate a total cicle between pages, don’t want to consider the other parts of the system and probably will do an one screen prototype. On high navigation fidelity prototypes you have to show the way to get into that situation or page, you will probably validate if people know how to move through the Information structure of the system.
Low data fidelity prototypes don’t have the input interaction, sometimes it’s just an image or pdf where the user must imagine that is putting their real data. High data fidelity prototypes can save data and get back that information from the database, normally used to test complex components where the user needs to treat with real data or won’t understand what is happening.
Low interaction fidelity prototypes are normally used to validate static pages, visual concepts or discover if the user figure out where is the button he need to find on the interface. High interaction fidelity prototypes are used to validate new ways of interaction, ways that isn’t culturally fixed and is a new design pattern. New components normally needs prototypes like with high interaction, to figure out if the way it works will be comprehended by the user.
Low graphical prototypes are normally used for new ideas, that can be tested even on paper prototype, normally if you are on an initial stage of the project you will use low graphical prototype because you can change easily and fast. High graphical prototypes can be used to certify if the user will understand the icons of interface, if they will notice the clickable parts of the interface, if the colors will really be useful or distract the users from the real goal of the page. You can also use high graphical level to se the emotional (semantic) preference of the user, if the like a mockup or not.
Low acceptance prototypes are used to test with around developer user, inside company, normally to test something about usual capabilities of internet users. Normally you don’t have to recruit this around users and you don’t have time to test with real users (it’s better test with a friend them with nobody). High acceptance prototype are tested with real users, inside their environment, on production ambient of the system or inside the landing page. Test with real user is important, but the tests must be really planned and the interaction designer must decide the right moment to do this and if it is delivering value to the product in relation to the cost and time. Real user are demanding on the fidelity of the prototype, because of it you will normally have to get closer to them to have more intimacy.
Low metrics prototype normally gets qualitative results from tests, in this case the prototype won’t be able to get interface statistics from the navigation. High fidelity prototypes can captures data from usage on a quantitative way, it makes the synthesis of results be faster. There are no right way to get data from user, but relating quantitative with qualitative information does really works well.
Because of it all, it’s important to think about what do we want to test, either the prototype can became so detailed that it will be transformed into a untested product, what makes you have a high chance to fail big. Comprehend which parameter makes us have an exact perception about what our prototype will be able to do and validate. Also will show us and ending point to the prototyping step of the design process.
During the creation process of prototyping, can and must exist several small validation steps with near people, because it’s easier to test, low cost and fault-tolerant. But more important than that is to not believe only on this non-user data.