Rapid Prototypes

Rapid prototypes are “low-fidelity” versions of systems. They exist early on in the information architecture period, but are intended to test concepts like navigation, interaction design, and layouts. They are separate from graphic design on purpose. These are intended to be easily modified and ultimately thrown away.

There are “high-fidelity” types too, but those are often evolutionary, not throw-away.

There are specific tools for building rapid prototypes, such as Balsamiq or Axure.

Examples:

Authors and Poets Everywhere – The following prototype was built in Axure for an Information Architecture case study.  The site needed to serve 2 audiences: 1) Writers who are using the platform to publish their works and 2) Readers who will be coming to read content published by the authors.  The original Balsamiq sketches were transformed into the Axure Prototype.  The concept being proposed was primary navigation divided by audience with an emphasis on call to actions.