Prototyping Pro Tip: Practice With A New Tool By Redoing An Old Design

Jared Spool

May 7th, 2013

In the desire to expand your prototyping toolkit, you need to regularly try out new tools and techniques. Your goal is to have, at your disposal, as many different prototyping tools as possible. Maybe you want to learn a new software tool? Maybe you’re interested in practicing your whiteboard sketching skills or play with paper prototypes?

Even though you might be tempted to use a new tool to work on a new design, I think that’s a bad idea. Instead, I think you should set aside some time to redo an old project or mimic an existing design using the new tool. Grab a challenging interaction from your existing product, copy a cool design you use every day, or take the last prototype you built and rebuild it in the new tool.

Learning a new tool or technique takes full attention. Yet, coming up with new design ideas and approaches also takes full attention. Why divide the attention? If your goal is to master a new tool, make the investment to do just that.

Give yourself the time to learn and experiment with the new tool. Pick a design you’re very familiar with and practicing rebuilding it. Remove the need to concentrate on what makes the design good and focus on how you emulate it with this new tool.

Make the practice session all about learning the ins-and-outs of the new tool. Play with the different methods for rendering and simulation.

Take time to practice the techniques for prototyping before you need to put them into action on a real project. (And if you haven’t used a tool in a while, practice that too.)

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