The right time to prototype is when you need validation and can iterate with intent.
...but who benefits from this?
The User Experience Researcher
By adopting prototyping techniques, the UX Researcher creates and builds against test plans and has accurate measurements for analysis and success. By understanding usability and the user needs and desires, the prototype can bring these solutions to life. This practice helps connect the customer to the brand and experience in ways that are measurable by identifying and tracking against KPIs.
The UX Researcher analyzes results and creates user generated enhancements before investment of engineering. This helps us to understand the business, product, environment and end users needs and uncovers insights previously unnoticed or thought of.
The User Experience Designer
The UX Designer benefits from prototyping by allowing for a clear visual and communication hierarchy to reduce cognitive load time. The prototype helps govern user experiences by providing focus and interactive design balance.
Prototypes help us by creating contextual and environmental design choices with adherence to indigenous UI and HIG while adding appropriate unique patterns. Prototypes also allow for experimentation and discovery to generate provocative solutions and face the truth (this idea just doesn't work as planned... but it will)
The Product and Engineering Teams
By adopting prototyping, our development partners have enough information to perform (with certainty) and can easy craft initial technical architecture and provide expertise into the product. This lends itself well to agile methodologies and encourages byte size pieces to be addressed with a level of confidence the whole system will perform as designed.
The User (Core Customer)
Understanding our users reaction to a given system is imperative to success. Real users along with our research teams can test and analyze a concept mitigating uncertainty and generating clarity and vision.
Scuba Dive Videos
I pretty much live in the water. As a marine mammal diver at the Shedd Aquarium I am lucky enough to be on the dive team for aquarium conservation. As a certified Dive Master I spend my time exploring the majestic shipwrecks of Lake Michigan. Please see some video footage of these haunting wrecks.