We use prototypes a lot in design. They are there to help us learn quickly about what to do next. But I’ve noticed that we’ve started talking about them in a slightly one-dimensional way. Too often it feels like a prototype is just a stand-in for a spec.
Don’t get me wrong. Prototypes are a great way of demoing what you will or can build. They get everyone on the same page about what is possible and what you can change. It helps prevent each person having a completely different idea in their head about what we want to build or validate.
But prototypes are also about learning. And when you start playing with open-ended prototypes early in the design process, they are a great tool to explore new possibilities and ideas.