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22 Types of Prototype

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A prototype is a test or preliminary model of an idea, design, process, interface, technology, product, service or creative work. They are used to support business processes such as requirements gathering, development and strategy planning. The following are common types of prototype.

Architectural Animation

A movie that walks through the proposed 3D space of a building or structure.

Concept Art

Illustrations that capture an aspect of design such as an idea, layout, form, aesthetic, architecture or sequence.


A short, unpolished version of a work such as a song, film, visual design, game or business application.

Evolutionary Prototype

A prototype that is extended over a considerable period of time that represents a future version of something. For example, a concept car that is developed as a potential future production model.

Form Study

An object or animation that explores size, shape, form and appearance.

Functional Prototype

A prototype that is close to the end result in functionality. For example, a user interface that works with test data but isn't properly developed as an well designed and integrated system.

Horizontal Prototype

A prototype that shows a complete user interface without the ability to drill down.

Low Fidelity

A prototype that is less detailed or lower quality than the intended end result.

Minimum Viable Product

A product that's complete enough to put in front of customers as tool of market research or as a beta release.


A broad category of prototype that looks like the finished product but is completely lacking functionality. For example, a webpage depicted as an image or a car without an engine for use in wind tunnel testing.

Paper Prototype

Illustrations and primitive cardboard models of design ideas.

Proof Of Concept

An implementation of a method or design to prove that it can work.

Proof Of Principle

A test of a foundational idea.

Rapid Prototyping

Techniques such as 3D printing that produce a physical object from a computer aided design.

Scale Model

A smaller, typically non-functional, model. Commonly used for large things such as buildings, automobiles or aircraft.


Software visualizations of physical things.

Sports Prototype

An advanced automobile that is only used for racing. Often used as a prototype for advanced technologies that may be used in future production models.

Static Prototype

A prototype that appears to be functional but is in fact hardcoded. For example, software that fakes its data as opposed to integrating with data repositories.


A series of graphics that visualize a sequence such as a user interaction or a scene in a film.

Throwaway Prototype

A low cost prototype that is quickly developed with limited quality and functionality. Essentially the opposite of an evolutionary prototype that represents a state of the art design.

Vertical Prototype

A user interface mockup with drill down capabilities.


An illustration of a skeletal framework that serves as a blueprint for a design.

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