Think of the hours you’ve spent sprawled on the floor constructing your own toy brick masterpiece. Now think of the last time you transformed one of your ideas into a prototype. Notice any similarities? Well, while interlocking various bricks and adding elements to prototypes recently, I noticed that both have much in common. Here are my Top 5!
1. No limits
Let’s face the obvious: toy bricks are accessible to everyone. There is no such thing as a limit. There’s no restriction to age or skills, even though there are different sets and special editions available, including rather complex or technical lines. Basically all you need to have is the fascination for toy bricks. The rest is easy and comes from learning by doing.
Prototyping is quite the same. While there may be differences between prototyping at different levels of detail (low vs. high fidelity), prototypes can generally be created quickly and intuitively with the right prototyping tool. So you don’t need any specific skills, especially no programming skills. When creating a prototype maybe the only limit is your imagination…
See how to use the Pidoco prototyping tool
With toy bricks it is virtually impossible to exhaust your creative potential. Toy bricks bubble over with versatility. Every set consists of specific toy bricks. Although they usually come with instructions you can follow step by step, nobody keeps you from doing it your own way. So you can go ahead and invent your own construction, mix bricks from various sets or even build an entire house. Just create your very own masterpiece!
A entire house made of toy bricks
Prototyping represents the same kind of creative process. Working with a prototyping tool gives you a ton of creative freedom. Although most prototyping tools come with a predefined set of elements, such as buttons, menus, combo boxes, video bars or plenty of icons, they hardly limit you in what you can build. By combining elements in new ways or by adding interactions, device motions or touch gestures, new possibilities open up. It doesn’t matter whether you are prototyping a website, mobile apps or a piece of traditional software.
Playing with toy bricks, no doubt, is great fun, but probably one of the main reasons you spend hours searching for the right brick while letting them prick your knees or feet, is that you simply like creating things. Thanks to this passion, you can build objects that are not just a quick construction, but may include highly-specialized technical details. As with almost all things, your best constructions probably involved a lot of trial and error: constructing, de- and reconstructing your object until you were happy with the result.
Mocking up a future product is quite the same iterative process. You may be a creative whiz, but most prototypes will take a number of iterations before they pass the usability test. With the right prototyping tool, this will be no problem at all, since it will let you go through various versions of the prototype, allowing you to modify and redo certain parts without having to do it all over again. In the end your prototyping masterpiece will likely meet UX requirements and exceed customer expectations.
Keyboard built with toy bricks
One of the most amazing things about toy bricks is the interlocking! Not only that you can virtually use them forever, as they will still interlock with the newest pieces, even if bought many years ago, you can also put the bricks together really fast. It only takes a few minutes to pile up your bricks and to plastically present your latest idea.
Prototyping is quite similar! The predefined building blocks found in good prototyping tools allow you to mock up an idea with only a few clicks. Even adding interactivity or animations to breathe life into your prototype can be done in a few minutes. Often, this is much faster than coding it. But the real time-saver is when you need to adapt a prototype due to changing requirements or feedback from usability testing: Instead of having to rewrite your code, you can simply move elements around, add or remove a page, relink and voilà – there’s your new version.
Playing with toy bricks is a great way to spend a day – no matter if you are a child or a grown-up. Most of all, toy bricks are a multiplayer activity bringing together friends and family. That’s basically the same with prototypes. By sharing them with your colleagues or other stakeholders, the whole product family gets united on the virtual play carpet. Not only can people easily get directly involved in the prototyping process, enabling them to put thoughts into images rather than just words), but everyone can also easily understand the prototypes, which empowers them and fosters vivid dialogue and discussions on the work in progress – usually leading to better results.
You’ve created a interesting prototype or brick toy construction? Let us know on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.