Prototypes are a preliminary version of a product or system, used for usability testing before the final design is implemented. Here's how you can use prototypes for usability testing:
1. Define the Purpose: Before you start with prototyping, you must be clear about what you want to achieve from usability testing. It could be to understand user interaction, feedback on design, or the functionality of the product.
2. Choose the Type of Prototype: Depending on your purpose, you can choose from paper prototypes, digital prototypes, or HTML prototypes. Paper prototypes are hand-drawn, low-cost, and useful for getting feedback on initial design concepts. Digital prototypes are interactive and good for understanding user interaction. HTML prototypes are high-fidelity and very close to the final product.
3. Create the Prototype: Use design tools to create the prototype. If it's a paper prototype, you can sketch it. For digital or HTML prototypes, you can use tools like Sketch, Adobe XD, Figma, InVision, etc.
4. Plan Usability Testing: Decide on the number of participants, the method of testing (in-person or remote), and the tasks that you want the participants to perform.
5. Conduct the Test: In the test, ask the participants to complete the tasks using the prototype. Observe their interaction with the prototype, where they face difficulties, and their overall experience.
6. Gather Feedback: After the test, ask the participants for their feedback. Ask them about their experience, what they liked, what they didn't, and any suggestions they have.
7. Analyze Results: Analyze the results of the usability test. Look for patterns in the data, common difficulties faced by users, areas where users got stuck, etc.
8. Iterate and Improve: Use the insights from the usability test to improve your design. Make necessary changes in the prototype and test again. Repeat this process until you are satisfied with the results.