Prototype/Wireframe Testing Tips

Last Updated: Sep 20, 2016 10:16AM PDT
Read the following tips (or watch the video below) to learn what a prototype is and how to test one.


Prototypes and wireframes are “half baked” versions of sites or apps; the links won’t always work, images may not be in place, and they might contain filler text (like “Lorem Ipsum”).

This means you need to use your imagination when interacting with a prototype or wireframe. It’s important not to get hung up on the appearance or content you’re looking at, and to focus on what you DO understand about the page, and what you would expect to happen next if you continued down whatever path you are exploring.

If you want to get a high rating on a prototype or wireframe test, do the following things:
  • Avoid complaining about the appearance of the site or app, unless asked specifically about it. You are probably not looking at the final version of the product, just its skeleton.
  • Avoid complaining about the links not working. If something doesn’t work the way you expect it to (or doesn’t work at all), just explain what you would expect to see and then move on with the test. "I don't like this prototype because I can't click on this button" isn’t nearly as helpful as, "If I could click this button, I’d expect to be able to..."

  • Forgive any clunkiness you experience. Some companies build prototypes on internal servers that move more slowly. Other companies build prototypes inside of other tools like InVision. Slow loading times, improper page sizing, or strange navigation controls may happen. Be patient, and do your best to work around these functionality hiccups.

  • Explain what you understand, and why you understand it that way. “This doesn’t make any sense” isn’t nearly as helpful as, “Well, I thought that this icon meant ‘save’ because of the check mark, but now it looks like I deleted it.”

  • Read the instructions very carefully. This is true for ALL tests. Read every word. Read the instructions out loud. Missing a single word can sometimes take you entirely off course, and that will limit how helpful your feedback is.
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