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on April 5, 2010
I'm an advocate of prototyping. I'll even go so far as to recommend that wireframing be reduce to just sketching in favour of prototyping. Still prototyping in a UX environment can sometimes be one of those things that you don't always get to practice when you would like to.

This is where Rosenfeld's book Prototyping - A Practitioner's Guide by Todd Zaki Warfel can fill in some of those nagging holes.

Now I enjoyed this book. I'm firmly in the audience demographic that this book is pitched at, which is good. Todd presents a concise overview of the art and science of prototyping, the upside and the downside are equally balanced within the book. That is what makes it so refreshing to read. However...

The first 7 chapters deal with a recommend guide to implementation of prototyping, including paper prototyping. This is well presented concise and worthwhile. As is the last 2 chapters on HTML prototyping and an overview on prototype testing. All these chapters are just what you need for the basics of prototyping, while still offering some extra detail for the experienced UX professional.

However there are a number of points within the book that I found just didn't gel well with me. Now I have nothing against Todd, I'm sure we have a lot of passionate view points in common. It's just part of this book feels wrong to me.

You see in the middle of the book are a series of chapters that discuss how to prototype with various desktop applications.

I really would love to know why there is an extra four chapters stuffed into this book reviewing the very basics of using PowerPoint, Visio, Fireworks and Axure Pro as prototyping tools.

These chapters are nothing more than a step wise guide to using the applications, a few minor points for prototyping with them.

Discussing any software products that aren't generic is going to be a danger, as it immediately dates the book, considering the book was published in November 2009, it's already dated.
For instance where is MS-SketchFlow, the current UX darling of the hour. Maybe we have a case of the Publisher forcing Todd's hand on this one, I hope not. It's as if these extra chapters have been added in to stuff the page count up.

You know this makes me wonder if Rosenfeld are really appealing to the UX professional or some other audience I don't know off.

If the first section of the book wasn't so damn useful I would have give this book a 2 star rating for these filler chapters. If it has been published without these chapters I would rate this book as a must buy (4-4.5 stars), a concise guide to getting started with prototyping. Sadly however for some reason it was published with these filler chapters so the 3 star rating stands.

The book starts where it should with a wonderfully presented case for why anyone in the design process should be using prototyping, which can be very easily used on general business as well. I remember reading this chapter with a big smile on my face, you can see that Todd has had to trot out these rebuffs time and time again to the same old anti prototype augments.

As expected the book deals with the prototyping process, it does this well, however I felt that this area could have done with a little more detail, nothing major, just a little more of Todds words. One interesting aspect was the presentation of the five types of prototyping and the eight guiding principles, most of which are fairly common sense. However it does help to state them to remind people new and old to the prototyping ways.

I'm not going to review those four rogue chapters...

The chapters on paper and html prototyping could also have been a little longer with a few more examples, on the pitfalls of the methods and ways to overcome them, still they where handy universal references for using prototyping.

Finally the book wraps with a discussion on prototype testing. Now this is not your usual user testing chapter. Sure it does talk about user testing for 8 odd pages, but the real gold here is in the list of common mistakes and ways to overcome them. This type of practice advice is invaluable to any UX professional.

If you don't have a prototyping guide, yes go out and buy this book. You can always skip those deadwood chapters, they add nothing to the book and you will not miss them.

However if you already have a prototyping reference, I would consider against buying this book, unless you really want it.
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on December 3, 2009
"Prototyping: A Practitioner's Guide" is a terrific and comprehensive review of both the prototyping process and the tools involved. There's really very little with which to find fault. I found that the book both validated my experience in prototyping and provided new techniques to try out, with many "Aha!" moments in both respects. The inclusion of case studies illustrating the techniques provide additional perspective and make the techniques more "real". The review of each prototyping technique/tool, whether paper or software-based, includes links to additional resources like toolkits, sample images, and the like - these would be especially useful to someone just getting started with a particular tool. Speaking as a designer who's typically relied on HTML prototypes and Visio, I must say my interest in Adobe Fireworks and, to a lesser extent, Axure is piqued. I think any UI/UX/IX designer, of any level of experience, would get something out of this book. Not that it would be useful only to them - analysts and software engineers will benefit from it as well.

A few very small issues:

* Early in the book, Mr. Warfel defines wireframes. I personally don't see why a wireframe can't depict flow - to me a wireframe is just a basic representation of the UI used to depict basic layout, flow, and interaction patterns. So, I think we simply differ slightly on the definition. I do like the term "narrative prototype" better and may start using that in place of "wireframe" - it is more descriptive.

* One issue with using common backgrounds in Visio prototypes is that you can't do a "select all" and then copy + paste the result into documentation, as all the background elements won't be copied. You can do a screen cap - but that takes a bit longer. So, just something to be aware of when using Visio.

* The author asks what is the point of using a virtual machine + Windows-only prototyping tools on a Mac. I'd say the point is simply that if, you do only own a Mac or Linux-based machine, you don't have to purchase an additional computer. Just a matter of practicality really.

* In the usability section - the author talks about the testing tool Morea, meaning "Morae" - a Techsmith product.

Again, these are small issues in an otherwise terrific book!
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on March 27, 2010
In this review, I'm going to talk first about the book itself and then give some comments that apply (so far) to all books published by Rosenfeld.

It's difficult to rate this because the rating varies between the audience. Beginning Prototypers: 5 stars. Experienced Prototypers: 3-ish stars. Personally, I like the book, find it useful, and certain parts of this book will be useful for future reference.

Prototyping: A Practitioner's Guide can be thought of in two main parts. First, Chapters 1-4 (inclusive) discuss some background on prototyping, general considerations, basically things to think about and know about prototyping in general. Chapters 5-11 discuss specific tools used to develop prototypes, and a very basic how to use those tools to develop prototypes. Finally, Chapter 12 discusses testing the prototype.

People new to prototyping will probably find the most value in this book. People who are seasoned practitioners in prototyping will probably find the first half useful (theory and practices), but not so much the second half (tools).

Each chapter on tools gives a quick "score card" (quick view of strength and weaknesses at a glance), discusses some strengths of the tool as well as some weaknesses. Additionally, a quick and simple step-by-step how to make a <something> prototype for each tool is given.

One tool I find to be conspicuously absent is Adobe Flash. The author states that he chose not to discuss Flash because there are already a multitude of books dedicated to Flash. While I agree Flash is extremely well documented and there are many books on the topic, I think that Flash's popularity as a prototyping tool warrants at least a short chapter and discussion on using Flash specifically to prototype designs.

Reading books published by Rosenfeld is a very pleasant experience (I love Rosenfeld Media, they are my favorite publisher due to my user experience with their ebooks). The books are published in both ebook form and paper book form. The ebook, a pdf, was obviously designed to be read as an ebook. The font is large, clear, and easy to read on a variety of screen sizes. There are links within to book to relevant places online (e.g. All images link to a high-quality, CC licensed version on Flickr). These are truly the best laid out and thought out ebooks I have seen to date. Hopefully Rosenfeld starts a trend. The hard copy versions are printed on high-quality paper and are small enough to fit in a medium sized purse/bag.

All Rosenfeld books (that I've read) begin with how to use the book and frequently asked questions. The first chapter focuses on why you should employ a method (in this case prototyping) and why it's important--in addition to being informative, this first chapter seems to give the reader an arsenal for communicating with decision makers who might appreciate a solid rationale to spend time and money on whatever the topic of the book is.
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on November 20, 2009
I just finished reading Todd's book. It's a great resource for learning how to use tools at hand to build interactive prototypes. (Catalyst and SketchFlow are a different conversation.) We might consider PowerPoint, Visio, Fireworks and the others (except Axure and HTML) for wireframing, but we don't usually think of them for building interactive prototypes.

We typically expect to use a book like this as a reference, to be picked up when we have a problem to solve, like figuring out how to prototype in PowerPoint. But the book is truly engaging. I read it straight through. I especially like the guidelines for the prototyping process and the eight guiding principles. These help us structure a method for prototyping. They all make sense and are points we already know (we say, yes, of course), but outlined like this they provide tangible direction and boundaries for the work.

With each chapter that describes a prototyping tool, I found myself saying, "Yeah, I can't wait to try prototyping in that tool," and I'd say it again in the next chapter. This even happened reading the chapter on HTML, and I'm no coder.

The GUI components, templates, and articles that Todd points readers to are worth the price of the book. Actually, they're worth more. I've often spent hours - sometimes days - trying to track down resources like these. Sometimes I find them, other times I don't. Having these references handy is a huge time saver.

One constructive observation: I think the section on Progressive Reveal should be pulled from Chapter 11 (HTML), as this is a general lesson in "best practices" for UI design, similar to the guiding principles. All readers would find this information valuable, but those that skip the HTML chapter might miss it.
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on December 2, 2009
For the first time I could grab my hands on something really useful, a guide that helps you from scratch to a good level of knowledge and perspective. This book is for everyone, designers, developers, managers, and I even think clients should read it too. It is easy and fast to read. With its real case studies, you can feel how prototyping can really help you to reduce time, save money and do the right thing.
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on June 24, 2012
This book is by no means a comprehensive look at prototyping, but it does provide a lot of helpful information and the basics. The information is laid out in an easily understood way and the author clearly defines important points. The back half of the book is less about how to prototype, but more of a comparison of popular prototyping tools. This is very helpful when deciding how to go about creating a prototype
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on October 8, 2011
The book taut the virtues of prototyping but it's heavily geared toward web applications. It points to several tools that can be use for prototyping and gives a very good comparison of these tools as well as several good ideas on how to use them. The downside for me was that it didn't really advice me on how to prototype, how do I determine what aspects I need to focus, mechanisms to measure impact, and what to measure.
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on December 14, 2009
Todd Zaki Warfel's book "Prototyping: A Practitioner's Guide" is an extremely well written and relevant book for all UX designers. In addition to the generous amount of illustrations - Todd's guidance and references are sound.
The book is "Spot On!"
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on January 15, 2014
I am unhappy. It was not the book I expected. I work with models and prototypes of products, not programming, so I was not satisfied with the purchase.
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