In a classic design thinking project, a very important step is the construction of a prototype. In our process, that would be step number 5, in other processes, of course, this can vary and slip to another location. The goal is always to build a functional prototype with simple means which will then be presented to the tester and examined for the function or what you want to test.

But now it may be that min in very large design thinking projects you want to tackle different aspects or goals. So you want to build different prototypes.

In other words, I would like to try different ways of implementing an idea. From a simple and inexpensive solution to an imaginative groundbreaking masterpiece. There are a number of prototypes that you can use for this purpose. The most common ones I would like to perform here and take something under the microscope.


  • dark horse Prototyp
  • Functional prototype
  • Funky prototype
  • Critical function prototype
  • …..

Dark Horse Prototype

The mysterious black horse. References to horse racing are about the one that nobody expects and achieves an overwhelming victory. It’s about the idea where you see a lot of potential, but it falls off the line. What nobody expects, but brings an incredible success. As a team you should look for an idea that surprisingly presents a solution. In a separate session, this is then developed into a prototype and tested. Hopefully to the positive surprise of all participants.

Functional Prototype

Do I want to take a special function of a product under the microscope, ignore everything else? Then this is my prototype. This is usually very simple and should be limited to the crucial functions. Exactly these I want to test and develop. This can be a process within a product or a function. He is also great for learning. If you want to know how a user normally does something, then I can map this with the Functional Prototype and document a journey.

Funky Prototype

Now it’s going to be funny, we ignore technology and feasibility and get started. What would our problem solution look like then? This is going to be funky! This allows the Design Thinking Team to leave the familiar environment and go new ways. Develop without limits. What would we do if we could do anything? Maybe there are other solutions that are far removed from our typical approaches. We can explore these zones with the Funky Prototype. It looks a bit like fun but the results can make a big step towards the ideal result.

Wizard of Oz Prototyping

But we can still go one better. What would happen if there are no limits? Let’s think: how would Superman or Wonder Woman solve our problem? Or Gyro Gearloose? Or Oz’s Wizzard. We can use any character and ask that question. Once the thought really free rein.

New solutions do not come from somewhere, they have to come into existence and that’s what happens when we help. This prototype can help. And the tester continues to inspire us. Think the unthinkable and build an incredible prototype. This step can also be done for multiple characters, because every thought is a little different.

Critical function Prototype

With which function or characteristic of our product we have to be absolutely sure. Which function is essential for success. It’s best to test that in a prototype. The Critical Function Prototype fulfills exactly this purpose. It does not have to be elaborate, usually not nice, but it fulfills exactly this function. And that’s exactly what we want to test. This prototype can be a drawing or something made. The most important thing is that it fulfills exactly one purpose.


Only a small selection

This is just a small selection of possible prototypes. Of course there are a few more. But maybe more later in another article. It’s fun to try it all out and experiment a little bit around. Just try it.




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