An article to help you understand the difference between high-fidelity and low-fidelity prototypes

In today’s rapidly growing product industries, user experience is becoming increasingly important.

And “prototyping” is critical to creating a successful user experience.

So in product design, should we choose low-fidelity prototypes or high-fidelity prototypes? What are the usage scenarios of the two prototypes? Xiao M has made corresponding analysis on this, let’s take a look!



1. What is a low-fidelity prototype?

Low-fidelity (lo-fi) prototypes, also called wireframes, are a quick and easy way to convert high-level design concepts into something tangible and testable. Its primary purpose is – to inspect and test product functionality, not the visual appearance of the product.

The following are the basic characteristics of low-fidelity prototypes:

  • Visual: Only part of the visual attributes of the product are presented.

  • Content: Present only key elements of product content.

  • Interaction: Only present the page relationships involved in the important functions of the product.



The low-fidelity prototype can help us accurately split the page, the functional modules and display information of each page, and determine the interface layout of each page element. Normally we can useAxureMock RPUse other software to draw wireframes, and use the provided component resources or template examples to quickly complete the wireframe drawing.



Creating low-fidelity prototypes also has the following advantages:

  • Lower cost: With lower production cost, the design can be completed quickly in a short period of time.

  • Easy to reuse: It makes it easy for the design team to reuse prototype components and helps avoid tedious rework.

While low-fidelity prototyping is a relatively simple technique, it can be extremely useful when product teams need to explore different ideas and quickly refine a design.

2. What is a high-fidelity prototype?

A high-fidelity (Hi-fi) prototype can also be called a product’s Demo, which is as close as possible to the final product. It can display the product’s functions and business requirements in more detail. It can simulate almost all functions of the front-end interface except for the lack of real back-end data to support it.

Basic characteristics of high-fidelity prototypes include:

  • Visual: Need to show realistic and detailed design, close to the style of the final product.

  • Content: Most or all of the content to be displayed.

  • Interaction: Need to show more details and page relationships.



High-fidelity prototypes need to be color matched on the basis of low-fidelity and insert real pictures and icons. Make full use of the styles and proprietary interactive properties of each type of component in Axure or Mockup RP to increase fidelity to the prototype, add interactive events, and configure interactive actions for related components and pages. From the perspective of visual display and interaction design, it is a completely high-imitation Demo prototype.




Creating high-fidelity prototypes also has the following advantages:

  • High usability: High-fidelity prototypes often look like the real product and provide a clear understanding of the product’s main features.

  • Ease of development: High-fidelity interactivity allows you to test specific interactions, such as animated transitions and micro-interactions.

High-fidelity prototypes ensure that everyone from product managers to UX designers has a grasp of the product’s direction. It can demonstrate the product’s functions and business requirements in more detail, and can test very specific interaction details.

3. What are the usage scenarios of low-fidelity prototypes? 

  • Brainstorming: Suitable for quick brainstorming and presentation of design ideas to clients, developers and project participants.

  • Early testing: can grasp key functions and better define processes, information architecture and UI layout.

  • Development confirmation: Determine whether the functional experience can be achieved at the technical level in the early stage to avoid failure to develop in the later stage.



4. What are the usage scenarios of high-fidelity prototypes?

  • Functional implementation: Ensure that core functional requirements meet the user’s basic goals.

  • Interaction design: Ensure that most interactions are intuitive and fun.

  • Test development: It can save time on developing and writing code, effectively reducing errors and rework.



5. Write at the end

If you want to improve the user experience of your product, making full use of prototypes is an essential skill. Depending on product requirements, it is critical to choose the most effective prototyping method that minimizes work and maximizes learning.

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