A prototype is a model of a new system or product. It is often used as part of the design process in order to explore alternatives, test theories and confirm performance prior to starting production of a product.

In some cases, a prototype does not necessarily have to be a fully functioning version of the final product; for example, it can be a way of developing its visual design before adding the functionality later. Implementing part of the design rather than a completed version in this way is referred to as ‘rapid prototyping’.

It is often a good idea to prototype the design of a computer system, to assess its progress and standards while development is ongoing, and assessing usability, as part of an iterative design process.

Related methods include: Iterative design and Usability analysis.

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