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Newbie UX designer here. I'm currently preparing a prototype for some user testing. How do you decide the acceptable limitations to the functionality of your prototypes? Obviously we want to get as close to the final experience as possible, but ultimately, this is a prototype and not a final, coded product.

As an example, the tool I'm working on is primarily form-based, and comprised of a bunch of different sub-forms. My plan at the moment is the following limitations, which users will obviously be briefed on before testing:

  • Fields will have limited functionality. (they can select radio buttons, they can select drop-down items, but the latter won't populate the field with the value they choose, text-boxes won't actually allow them to input data)
  • I'm going to ask users to follow those sub-forms in a linear fashion. In the final tool they may complete them in any order.
  • In the final tool, each sub-form will be marked as complete when the user completes all fields and submits. If they've not completed all fields, they will be prompted to complete and given the option to save a draft, In the prototype, without real data input, I'm planning on sacrificing the validation check and ability to save and instruct users to complete all fields for the test. I then plan to do another round of testing with a single, simple sub-form where I can mimic some of that behaviour to test the usability of that specific functionality.

I appreciate the specifics of the tool drive the answer to this next question, but do these broadly sound like sensible approaches, and how do you make calls on what is an acceptable compromise of functionality/how much you ask users to suspend disbelief in prototype testing?

Thanks in advance.

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Your plan sounds OK, albeit a bit convoluted and with the logical limitations you already mentioned.

I would suggest something else: create the forms yourself. It's pretty easy and fast if you have programming skills. If you do not have that, most CMSs offer some sort of WYSIWYG form builder with drag and drop features that lets you create proper forms, even with conditional fields.

This approach has the advantage that you can test on desktop and mobile anywhere with any number of users, and you can even add tracking (like Hotjar) to better understand user behavior.

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