If a picture is worth a thousand words, a prototype is worth a thousand pictures. Your interactions with users are often richer when centered around a conversation piece. A prototype is an opportunity to have another, directed conversation with a user. To fail quickly and cheaply. Committing as few resources as possible to each idea means less time and money invested upfront. To test possibilities. Staying low-res allows you to pursue many different ideas without committing to a direction too early on. To manage the solution-building process. Identifying a variable also encourages you to break a large problem down into smaller, testable chunks.

While building the prototype, do not spend a too long time on one. Let go before you find yourself getting too emotionally attached to any one prototype.

Be sure that the prototype answers a particular question when tested. That said, don’t be blind to the other tangential understanding you can gain as someone responds to a prototype. Build with the user in mind. What do you hope to test with the user? What sorts of behavior do you expect? Answering these questions will help focus your prototyping and help you receive meaningful feedback in the testing phase.


Desktop walkthroughs can be seen as interactive mini-theater plays that simulate end-to-end customer experiences.

A desktop walkthrough helps to quickly simulate any experience using simple props like toy figurines on a small-scale stage (often built from LEGO bricks or cardboard), and test and explore common scenarios and alternatives. The critical deliverable is not the model of the map/stage but the experience of playing through the experience step by step. This method especially helps:

•To get a shared understanding within a team about the experience

•To identify the critical steps

•To identify any other key elements or problem areas that need to be addressed


1 Clarify prototyping questions: What do you want to learn from this prototyping activity?

2 Prepare workspace and materials: Pick up your desktop walkthrough materials and sheets of flipchart paper and set it up on a table. Make sure everybody can stand around it and contribute at the same time.

3 Brainstorm: Select a customer/persona and do a brief brainstorm: looking at your challenge, create possible steps of the solution or the journey. Then, quickly sort your sticky notes in chronological order.

4 Create maps and stages: Based on the initial question, design a road map to your possible solution. What locations are important that journey? Start by creating a big overview map that contains all the relevant locations of the service experience. Then, decide if and where you need to zoom in and create a detailed stage plan for each of these locations.

5 Create roles, set, and props: Which roles need to be cast? What needs to be built? Pick a figurine for each of the roles/key stakeholders in your service and quickly build the essential set and props, using paper, cardboard, plasticine, or LEGO bricks to set the stage.

6 Set up roles: Find your actors. Who is going to play which role? Also, it can be helpful to assign someone to keep track of the bugs, insights, and ideas queue during the walkth


NOTES:  1. Keep a list of bugs, insights, and ideas: After each run-through, take a few moments to reflect on what worked, what didn’t work, what you would like to change or try next.

Try having at least one observer for each walkthrough to balance judgment and counter the bias of the active players.

Last modified: Saturday, 6 May 2023, 1:13 PM