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The conventional purpose of a prototype is to allow users of the software to evaluate developers’ proposals for the design of the eventual product by actually trying them out, rather than having to interpret and evaluate the design based on descriptions. Prototyping can also be used by end users to describe and prove requirements that developers have not considered, so “controlling the prototype” can be a key factor in the commercial relationship between developers and their clients. Interaction design in particular makes heavy use of prototyping with that goal.

Prototyping has several benefits: The software designer and implementer can obtain feedback from the users early in the project. The client and the contractor can compare if the software made matches the software specification, according to which the software program is built. It also allows the software engineer some insight into the accuracy of initial project estimates and whether the deadlines and milestones proposed can be successfully met

Rapid Prototyping involved creating a working model of various parts of the system at a very early stage, after a relatively short investigation. The method used in building it is usually quite informal, the most important factor being the speed with which the model is provided. The model then becomes the starting point from which users can re-examine their expectations and clarify their requirements. When this has been achieved, the prototype model is ‘thrown away’, and the system is formally developed based on the identified requirements

The user interface is what the user sees as the system, and by seeing it in front of them, it is much easier to grasp how the system will work.

Prototypes can be classified according to the fidelity with which they resemble the actual product in terms of appearance, interaction and timing. One method of creating a low fidelity Throwaway Prototype is Paper Prototyping. The prototype is implemented using paper and pencil, and thus mimics the function of the actual product, but does not look at all like it.

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