Presenting Low-Fidelity Prototypes to Stakeholders

Sam Page Leipheimer and I teach about you X deliverables here at Nielsen Norman Group, I get asked all the time in our seminars whether or not it’s appropriate to present early stage, low fidelity design artifacts like wire frames or paper sketches to business leadership and other stakeholders. And I think a lot of designers out there feel a tremendous amount of pressure to present full blown visual design treatments for things even at very early stages where you’re still working through problems of page layout, hierarchy and information architecture.

The thing about low fidelity tools like wire framing and paper sketching is that they’re tremendously useful, but they’re meant more as a tool to work through our problem. The, however, doesn’t mean that they’re not appropriate to share with your business stakeholders, clients or other leadership. The thing is, they’re not meant to wow a boardroom full of people with your visual design acumen. They’re meant to work through a problem. So invite those stakeholders in to do a workshop, give everyone papers and pencils and have them sketch out some ideas. It doesn’t have to be designed by committee. It’s your job to sort through all the ideas that come out of this. Find the ones that have promise, do some usability testing and iterate on them. And you can always pitch this sort of meeting to your stakeholders as a knowledge transfer tool. It’s a way for you to benefit from all of their knowledge.

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