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The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun

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6.5. Prototypes are your friends

In Chapter 5, I explained why design is an exploration. You have to explore the problem space to understand what the alternatives are. Good design depends on knowledge of alternatives because the more information you have about problems and solutions, the easier it is to make good decisions. Prototypes are the natural next step in the design process. They take everything that's been learned and apply it to the problem without taking on the risks of full implementation. Prototypes fulfill the carpenter's maxim, "measure twice, cut once," by improving the design thinking before the team commits to a plan. And as I'll explain next, prototypes do not need to be elaborate or expensive, or require much time. If you're skeptical about the value of prototyping, jump to the section "Prototypes support programmers."

6.5.1. Where do prototypes start?

With four or five groupings in hand, you've paved the way for good prototyping. While people with stronger creative skills might have seen the directions for alternatives days before, groupings of ideas make it easier for the team to see how many alternatives there are. With 20 or 30 ideas, there are hundreds of different ways they could be combined, not counting how many different ways there are to interpret each individual idea.

An experienced designer will have good instincts for how to begin. She'll be comfortable sorting through the available ideas and deciding what to prototype first (not to mention how ...

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