The most basic definition of prototype is, “A simulation or sample version of a final product, which is used for testing prior to launch.” The goal of a prototype is to test products (and product ideas) before sinking lots of time and money into the final product.
Prototyping is essential for resolving usability issues before launch. It can also reveal areas that need improvement. Once a draft of your product idea is in the hands of real users, you’ll finally see how they want to use the product. You can then go back and adjust your initial guesswork.
A prototype is used to understand and see how a product or application works, what it does and how you should interact with it. They’re simulations of how a finished product will work. Sketches, wireframes and mockups serve other purposes in the design and prototyping process.
Prototypes are easy to make and cheap to construct. The beauty of prototypes is that they allow UX and UI designers to explore undiscovered avenues to reach a cohesive final design. They’re also useful when you need to test performance, save money and improve the user experience.