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Is low-fidelity prototyping unnecessary?

It depends. 🤓

You can’t say lo-fi is generally useless. I recommend to not regard this so dogmatically, but instead recall the basic idea behind different fidelity levels: The design process is iterative, and in each iteration you explore and diverge before you converge and make a decision.

Of course, you could argue it is the fastest to create one hi-fi draft and one draft only, and you’re done. But there is no chance, that this is the best possible design solution for your problem. It’s like randomly pointing at a certain path, claiming this is the best and most scenic to the summit – without ever having seen the other paths.

Especially when working in a team, it is much more efficient to first sketch out a couple of ideas with pen and paper (or when remote, maybe with grey boxes). Use those to discuss and decide, before you move to the next fidelity level.

That said, in my team we also often skip lo-fi whenever we feel it doesn’t help us. We have a design system, so basic design questions are already sorted. That often allows us equally fast to get an idea across with more-or-less ready-made digital components (mid-fi).

It might be different again, if you work on your own and don’t need to get ideas out of your head to discuss with others…

So, you see, it really depends. 🤓

But on whatever fidelity level you start, just do not skip exploration. Exploitation ensures the best design decisions, thus results in the best design quality. 🔚🙃

By Tim Reiser

A design lead at IBM in Germany blogging about random design and UX topics. Family guy, dog person, nuts about music, living too far away from the mountains and the sea.

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