Have you ever thought of redesigning your home kitchen or living room in one day? Consider the individual challenges of picking the paint colour, furniture style and arrangement without being able to foresee the entire end result. Despite best intentions, we typically encounter poor choices after the fact, such as a shelf being too low or shallow, or the placement of frequently used drawers away from the primary cooking area.

In a work place, the challenges are similar. Often complex job processes, or the diversity between employees, makes it difficult for facility planners, architects, engineers, managers and even front line staff to design the right work area on the first go. As in the home, modifications or rework of a work area, equipment and furniture is often more costly than designing it correctly in the first place.

To be able to foresee potential concerns, or to resolve difficult design questions, a prototype and user trial process can help greatly. Although it requires an investment in time and resources during the design process, it may ultimately save greater time and resources in the long run.

Prototypes are not necessarily sophisticated designs or real equipment. A simple prototype may be made from old furniture, spare building supplies or even cardboard! The goal of a prototype is to test a potential design, or an aspect of it, with end users involved performing realistic tasks. This helps the designers to observe the good points, as well as bad points with the design. It also engages the end user, which may lead to better acceptance when the design is implemented.

In the next blog, we will discuss the steps of a prototype and provide case study examples of how this process has been implemented in the work place.