Prototype & Test

How could it work?

The Prototype Phase is about trying new ideas with real people. This helps to minimize risk by validating ideas with real users before committing time and resources towards development.

Prototyping works hand-in-hand with developing opportunities. As the team develops new ideas and opportunities for a service, they can start prototyping those ideas to see how they work in the real world. They can then iterate on those ideas as the team continues with the project.


  • Make ideas concrete
  • Create common understanding about an idea
  • Test idea with real users
  • Improve and iterate on ideas
  • Build confidence to move forward
  • Mitigate risk in the project


Nothing makes a bigger difference to creating successful services than making them tangible early in the design process. Instead of talking about an idea, now is the time to make it real.

Look at multiple solutions, rather than fixating on the first one. After going broad with the exploration, use feedback, testing and iteration to narrow your options.

This lets the team, clients, and other stakeholders have a shared understanding that speeds up decisions. When everyone can see the same thing, communication is more efficient and decisions are easier.

How can the team prove that an idea will work? A good place to start is to make it real. Actually trying out an idea, using it, and having users take it for a test drive with a prototype lets the team see how it works (and where it needs improvement).

When the team sees people using the prototypes they gain confidence in the ideas, and can be champions when making the investment in implementation. This confidence grows as the team and clients work to co-design prototypes and concepts.

Teams do not have to invest a lot to make a prototype – from a quick sketch to a mock service counter using a couple spare desks, quick prototyping lets teams understand, explain, and improve ideas much faster. Teams do not have to wait until they have a polished prototype to try things out—delaying the power of prototyping robs teams of insight that can be best applied early on.

Ideas won’t be 100% when teams start prototyping: that is why working quickly lets teams understand what works, what doesn’t, and where they can improve. Then teams can iterate prototyping and testing again. Sometimes iteration will even take teams back to Discovery or Opportunity work to get the answers needed to make the solution better.

Ideas and implementation will never be 100% from the start: prototyping and iteration helps keep failures small, under control, and fuels learning and improvements. Implementing without prototyping exposes teams to the risk of very public and expensive failure. But failure with iterative prototyping is just part of the innovation process. Prototyping shifts the focus of failure from blame to learning.

Include policy and technical staff who can help understand the implications, constraints, and needs for opportunities and prototypes.