Systems can be developed on various levels of detail. Prototypes help to demonstrate parts of the intended functionality and the interaction with a new product. Users can try them out and comment on the design. So, problems can be identified early, and new requirements can quickly and easily be included in the design. It is advisable to allow for such communication between developers, contractors, and future users at an early stage, in order to be able to switch back and forth between the realisation and evaluation phases.
How can we avoid technical language and formulate for audiences without technical expertise? (reflection aspect: language)
Prototypes can take various forms: there are low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototypes. High-fi prototypes resemble the target product to a great extent. They are created using digital prototyping tools. Modifications have to be made by experts. Low-fi prototypes most often are made with paper and pen and look quite provisional. They can be manipulated and modified by test users themselves. In order to invite for use and to encourage critical comments low-fi prototypes are preferable.
In a participatory project with senior citizens (Maaß et al. 2018) paper prototypes and scenarios were prepared for evaluation. At the beginning, cooperating testers suspected that this was no serious method in software design but had been chosen only because of their age. They wanted to be taken seriously as cooperating non-experts and were quite sensitive regarding the language chosen and concepts used in cooperation. The reasons for the use of such methods had to be explained. After that, the prototype helped users to explore and discuss the intended system functionality and interaction techniques.