Guide to Low-Fidelity Prototyping: Tips, Tools, & Examples

Dayana Mayfield

Agile Product Development

Close Banner

Free Template & Financial Spreadsheet

Create your SaaS business plan

Sign Up

You want to align everyone on your team around a common vision.

You want to get feedback on your product before you spend hundreds of thousands of dollars developing it. 

You need a low-fidelity prototype.

It gives you something concrete to share with stakeholders and potential customers so you’re not circling the drain with the same back-and-forth, wishy-washy conversations. 

In this guide, we dive into the difference between low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototyping, how we fit prototyping into our digital product development process, examples of our own work, and the top tools to use to create your own prototypes. 

What is low-fidelity prototyping?

Low-fidelity prototyping is part of the product design and development process. It involves creating early versions of a product or design using inexpensive and quick methods. These prototypes are often rough and basic, and are used to test and evaluate ideas before committing to a more detailed and polished design. Low-fidelity prototypes are often created using simple materials, sketches, or wireframes and don’t include all of the features or functionality of the final product.

Defining fidelity

But what is fidelity? Fidelity is essentially how true-to-life something is. Low fidelity means it’s not realistic, while high fidelity means it’s as realistic as it can be (without requiring actual product development, which shouldn’t occur until you’ve collected customer feedback and validated the concept as worth your time and investment).

Fidelity can be absent or present for:

  • Visual design - How well does the prototype match the desired final design?

  • Content - How well does the prototype reflect the finished content? (For instance, having some real content instead of all lorem ipsum)

  • Interactivity - How interactive is the prototype? How does this align with the planned product? 

  • Functionality - Even though a prototype shouldn’t be fully functional, does it at least mimic what that functionality will achieve or produce?

Low-fidelity prototype requirements

Every product development team will have their own requirements for prototypes. At DevSquad, we think prototypes are most useful if the UI/UX matches the expected design closely in terms of layout and functionality, but not color, style, or content. We also don’t expect low-fidelity prototypes to be interactive, but we do often link mockups or wireframes together, so that if you click a button, you’ll be taken to the next appropriate screen. (Keep reading for examples.)

These requirements allow us to develop low-fidelity prototypes that serve their key purpose: getting feedback from stakeholders and moving to the next stage in development. 

Why is low-fidelity prototyping important?

Prototypes offer a lot of benefits. When you rush straight to development, you miss out big time.

Here’s why this step matters:

It’s fast

Across every product category, prototyping is infinitely faster than product development. You can create a prototype in days or weeks instead of months, allowing you to get feedback faster. 

It serves as documentation to get everyone aligned

A prototype allows you to get agreement from stakeholders before deciding to invest in a high-fidelity prototype, which will take longer to produce and cost more too. 

Essentially, low-fidelity prototyping serves as a fail-safe against internal confusion, lengthy meetings and conversations, and uncertainty. It allows you to get something concrete in front of stakeholders for practical feedback.

It’s great for user research

We’ve been dropping the word “feedback” a lot. Low-fidelity prototypes not only let you collect real, clear feedback from stakeholders but from your target users as well. 

You can conduct more formal user testing, where you show users your prototypes with no explanations and record their behavior, interactions, and responses. Or, you can simply show them the prototype and ask them for their feedback or have them answer a series of questions.

Here are some things you might ask:

  • How does this compare to the product you’re currently using or to your current process?

  • Would this contain all of the information you need?

  • Is there a feature or piece of information you were expecting to see here that we didn’t include?

  • If we were to build this product, 

It helps you save money (no pointless builds)

Because you can get feedback quickly and repeatedly, low-fidelity prototyping can save you tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

You won’t build a product that your users have no need for, or that doesn’t satisfy all of their expectations. You’ll be getting feedback before you commit. 

It allows you to be truly agile

Agile product development is considered best practice, while waterfall product development is best avoided. Why? When you work in an agile way, you rapidly deploy features, get feedback on them and reiterate. Whereas with a waterfall methodology, you develop the entire product in one chunk—meaning that by the time you finish, your product might be outdated or not in line with customer expectations.

Prototyping is an essential part of the agile project management process because your team will find it easier to make changes to rough versions of the project than to develop the entire thing and then have to adapt to feedback.

It lets you test-run collaboration styles

To build a SaaS startup the right way, you can't go it alone. You'll be collaborating with a software development agency. You might have a co-founder as part of your team, or a potential investor.

When you develop a low-fidelity prototype, you have the chance of working with stakeholders and the firm you plan to hire—before you invest $90,000+ in developing the final product.

This test run is invaluable because it gives you a low-cost, less time intensive way to see how like collaborating with your chosen partners and team mates. Are communication styles and work styles effective? Can you envision this working long term?

It clarifies your commitment to the product

Being an entrepreneur is exhausting. There's a big upfront investment of time, money, and energy, and you might never make it to the breakeven point, even if your idea is solid.

By first developing a low-fidelity prototype, you'll get a chance to test your own commitment. Do you care enough about the target audience and problem to risk your own money and time? Is this the right product? Do you have the energy and capacity to tackle it right now?

You'll get the chance to answer these questions before investing a six-figure sum.

How does low-fidelity prototyping fit into the product development process?

Prototyping should come early on. The process typically follows this order: discover the target user’s problems and understand their needs, brainstorm solutions, choose the best approach, prototype it, get feedback from stakeholders and users, launch the first version of the prototype and start earning revenue, collect more feedback and improve the product. 

Of course, product development looks different for every company. 

We create prototypes for every product we take on, and it is a critical part of our own product development process. Early on at DevSquad, we used Google’s Design Sprint methodology. 

It’s a five-step process that looks like this:

  1. Map - Brainstorm and map out the user stories (user problems and requirements)

  2. Sketch - Sketch out possible solutions to solve these user stories

  3. Decide - Choose the best solution to move forward with 

  4. Prototype - Create a prototype of the solution

  5. Test - Share your prototype with users and get their feedback

Once the product is validated, you then move on to product development. 

You can learn more about Google’s Design Sprint method in this short video.

It’s still an excellent methodology, but through the years, we’ve honed our own signature approach.

Now, our product development process looks more like this:

dual track agile product developmentWe run 4 to 6 weeks of discovery sprints for new clients. We customize the discovery process based on their needs. One client might just have a rough understanding of their target audience’s problems, while another might have a fully-fledged product idea. Through various discovery iterations, we continuously come up with new product ideas and sketches and determine if they’re worth building. 

Once we come up with the best solution to the most pressing user problem, we then create a low-fidelity prototype. We get feedback on this from all stakeholders before moving on to the high-fidelity prototype. We then share that prototype with target users to ensure that it covers their expectations and would actually solve their core problem. Then, we run the development sprints required to launch version 1 of the product. 

What is the difference between low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototyping?

Low-fidelity prototypes are less function and look less like the finished product than high-fidelity prototypes. Most importantly, low-fidelity prototypes are a step in the process towards a high-fidelity prototype. 

Let’s use human development as a metaphor. A user problem would be a baby, an idea would be a toddler, a low-fidelity prototype a child, a high-fidelity prototype a teen, and the finished product an adult. 

At DevSquad, we believe that while low-fidelity prototypes shouldn’t be functional, they should have UX that closely matches the proposed solution so you can collect user feedback. We typically design low-fidelity prototypes in black and white. Meanwhile, our high-fidelity prototypes are in full color, contain more content, and are clickable. 

Types of low-fidelity prototypes for software development

While UX design mockups reign supreme, there are other types of low-fidelity prototypes that can work for simple, straightforward products. 


Here are some analog tools to use:

  • Sticky notes - You can use sticky notes to clarify user flows or requirements.

  • Sketches - You can actually sketch out the proposed solution or product. 

  • Whiteboards - You can draw diagrams and product sketches. 

Here’s an example of a user story drawn out on sticky notes:

storyboarding for uxWoman purchasing a conference ticket – source

Typically, a user story diagram precedes prototype development and is not considered a type of prototyping. However, for a very simple product or new feature, you could go straight from an approved user story to development (although this isn’t recommended).


These are the most common digital formats:

  • Digital wireframes - A wireframe is sort of like a rough layout of a digital experience. While not as accurate as UX design mockups, wireframes can serve as prototypes in a pinch. 

  • Diagrams of user stories and user flows - While a diagram of user flows might not seem like a prototype, it can definitely serve the purpose of one. You need something that you can review and agree on as a team, and a diagram can definitely offer that. However, UX design mockups are the best option.

  • UX design mockups - UX design mockups are the best format for prototyping because they look as close to the final product as possible, but without any semblance of functionality. 

Low-fidelity prototype examples

You might be surprised at just how true-to-life we think low-fidelity prototypes should be. 

We make them black-and-white with no interactivity. But they are still close to the final UX so that everyone can see what the finished product will look and feel like.

Here are some examples from our design team here at DevSquad:

1. In-progress delivery routes

This UX design prototype shows an in-progress route in a map view, the stops, and accurate time stamps.

low fidelity prototype of delivery tracking platform2. Product stock forecasting

This product stock dashboard shows days until stock order, velocity, product name, and more.
low fidelity prototype of product stock forecasting

3. Sales intelligence dashboard

With this sales team dashboard, sellers and managers can track their results.

low fidelity prototype for sales intelligence dashboardTop companies that offer low-fidelity prototyping

These companies offer low-fidelity prototyping as a service. You can explore their websites for more case studies and examples. 

1. DevSquad

Best for: Software and digital products

DevSquad is a product development company based out of Utah. We include low-fidelity prototyping along with every project. We work in concurrent discovery and delivery sprints, meaning that we’re always including strategy, user discovery, and design so that we’re working in the most agile way possible. 

The process for building a SaaS product typically starts by understanding what problem an entrepreneur or business leader is trying to solve. Then, we storyboard that into the most essential user flows. Next, we get agreement from the stakeholders and then develop the low-fidelity prototype. After we get feedback on that from the stakeholders, we create the high-fidelity prototype (a clickable version of the product with the full UI of V1 built out in Figma). From there, we collect user feedback and craft the backlog. 

2. RapidMade

Best for: Industrial, automotive, and electronic products

rapidmadeRapidMade offers 3D printing, manufacturing, and engineering services. The company serves a wide variety of technical and hardware-focused industries, including automotive, electronics, energy, industrial, medical, and robotics. 

As part of an engagement with the company, you can work with them to develop both low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototypes before manufacturing a large quantity of your product. Their low-fidelity prototypes are typically CAD drawings or sketches, while the high-fidelity prototypes are typically 3D printed models using affordable materials. One of their example projects was the creation of a Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer to help Hoyt St Electric Skateboards craft and validate their own models.

3. Ristich

Best for: Consumer products

ristichIf you’re looking to create a low-fidelity prototype for a consumer product, you might want to consider an agency like Ristich. They’ve built tumblers for Kurin, a menstrual cup for a Kickstarter campaign, and a brand marketing strategy for Hikawa. Their focus on user expectations, brand marketing, and product development means that they know how to link prototyping with market demands. 

Best low-fidelity prototyping tools

Ready to create your own low-fidelity prototypes? While Figma is our favorite, other tools can handle the job too. 

1. Figma


Figma is a popular tool for UX design, low-fidelity prototyping, and high-fidelity prototyping. It’s great for creating beautiful, modern designs and collaborating as a team. 

2. Miro


As a visual collaboration platform, Miro can be used for user stories, diagrams, wireframes, and very rough prototypes. It’s great for running discovery workshops, but Figma is better suited for realistic prototyping. 

3. Conceptboard


Conceptboard is a collaborative online whiteboard similar to Miro, but with additional enterprise security features for companies looking to make their online collaboration more secure. 

4. Lucidchart


With Lucidchart, you can create detailed diagrams, user stories, and product wireframes. It’s great for the discovery phase of the process, or for replacing standard prototypes with other digital formats. But for realistic mockups, use Figma or Mockitt.

5. Mockitt


Mockitt is a UX design and prototyping tool that is more popular among website designers, while Figma is more commonly used by app developers. 

How to create a low-fidelity prototype in 7 steps

A low-fidelity prototype is not interactive, clickable, or functional. But it should still have fidelity in terms of design. With the UX and product layout close to the proposed product, you’ll be able to get more accurate feedback. If the prototype looks nothing like the proposed product, your user and stakeholder feedback won’t be very accurate. 

That’s why you need a skilled UX designer to create the prototype. They can lay out the UX and user flows the way they best see fit based on the target user and goal functionality. 

All of the above tools are perfect for creating low-fidelity prototypes, and they all offer extensive tutorials to walk you through the process.

To strategically create a low-fidelity prototype worth testing, follow these steps:

Step 1. Define your target users and their problem

The first step is to wrangle all of your stakeholders and sit down together. In your meeting, get very clear on your ideal target users and the problems they're facing. Ideally, you'd be able to define your target users in terms of their role or title, industry, and company size. Jot down the top three to five problems that they're up against.

For example, an office manager who must manage travel bookings for her company has to deal with finding flights and hotels, coordinating times with travelers, staying under budget, and delivering invoices to the finance team.

Step 2. Brainstorm multiple solutions

Once all stakeholders have agreed on the target audience criteria and core problems, it's time to discuss solutions.

Come up with a handful of ways that you might solve this problem. Discuss multiple types of products, from simple tools to all-in-one platforms. Consider what will truly solve the problem, but be creative and don't be afraid to stab the problem in different ways.

Step 3. Map out the best solution with a story map

Now, it's time to create a story map to match the solution you plan to move forward with.

Not sure which idea to choose?

Consider these elements when choosing the best solution:

  • Technically feasible

  • Affordable to create V1

  • Better than existing competitors

  • Addresses the core problems most directly

The story map lists the core tasks and subtasks users need to take to achieve their ultimate goals.

You should be able to break up the all of the essential user flows, including sign up and any other actions they'll need to take to get to their final destination, whether that's creating and sharing a moodboard or analyzing marketing data.

Here's an example from our sister company, DevStats. You can see that for V1, there are 9 main tasks. Additional tasks have been relegated to V2 of the product.

story map exampleAs you work through this process with your team, you should save any feature ideas that aren't essential to drive revenue and keep track of them as potential updates for V2 of your product.

If users don't need the feature to achieve their core desire and get the main task done, it can wait.

Step 4. Determine your pillar feature

Next, you should clarify your pillar feature. This will be your guiding light for the prototype and will help you understand which user flows and screens to prioritize when developing your prototype.

So, how do you know what your pillar feature is?

It's the thing that—once you build it—you'll be able to sell your product and start earning revenue. Without it, your V1 is dead in the water. All other features play a supporting role.

Step 5. Develop your low-fidelity prototype

Now that you know what your pillar feature is (and are confident that your target audience really needs it), you're ready to build your low-fidelity prototype.

Use Figma or a similar tool to create the UX design for the most important screens and user flows.

Check our low-fidelity prototype examples above for inspiration. Remember that the prototype doesn't need to have branded colors or fonts. It just needs to showcase the buttons, settings, and actions users must take.

Step 6. Test your prototype with real users

We recommend showing your low-fidelity prototype to at least ten real users.

Set up a meeting and share the prototype with each user one by one. Don't explain the product. Instead, ask them to click through the screens and give their open-ended feedback on what they think about it.

You can rely on UserTesting to source testers that match your target user description. This platform is also ideal for hosting and recording the user testing sessions.

After you've allowed the user to give their unbridled feedback on your low-fidelity prototype, ask a few questions to get even more information on their needs and opinions:

  • How does this differ from your current solution to this problem?

  • Would you pay for this product?

  • How much would you pay for this product?

  • Does it meet your needs, or would you still need to use a competitor or overlapping tool?

  • If it doesn't meet your core needs...what feature is missing?

Step 7. Build your prototype if it's validated (or ditch it)

Now, you've got the information you need to move forward with building your prototype. If the feedback is mostly positive, the next stage is to create a high-fidelity prototype, incorporating any necessary changes.

A high-fidelity prototype iterates on user feedback and adds on-brand colors, fonts, and other UX elements.

If the feedback was negative or mixed, return to the drawing board. Consider another solution or pillar feature. Or, you might need to redefine your target audience or do more research to better understand their problems.

For expert help strategizing, designing, and validating your product, learn more about DevSquad. We’re a boutique product development agency specializing in SaaS and digital transformation.

Close Banner

Building a product?

Discover the DevSquad Difference

Learn More