What Is Low Fidelity?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Low-fidelity prototypes are fast and easy for designers to make, and they represent a concept or product without focusing on the visuals or interactive features.

[Featured image] A learner learns about low fidelity on their laptop.

When you design a prototype, it can have either low or high fidelity. Fidelity refers to how much a prototype resembles the actual product which includes the visual characteristics, content, and ability to interact with it. Low fidelity usually means the prototype has the minimum visual details and functionality, but has enough content for sharing the concept with others. Low-fidelity prototypes are usually quick and easy to design.   

Read more: User Experience (UX) Terms: A to Z Glossary

What are some types of low-fidelity prototypes? 

Many low-fidelity prototypes are made from paper sketches or digital wireframes. Sketches are fast and easy to create, and you easily discardable. You can also refer back to them throughout the design process and make notations directly on the prototype for easy future reference. 

Digital wireframes are resuable digitally designed sketches that show the functionality and content of the product but not the visuals or interactive parts. They allow you to change and manipulate layouts easily. 

What are the pros of low-fidelity prototypes?

One of the main reasons designers use low-fidelity prototypes is that they're fast,easy, and affordable to create. Members of your team who aren't designers can also create them. Low-fidelity prototypes are easier to make changes to, and provides users with a basic understanding of a product or concept. 

What are the cons of low-fidelity prototypes?  

Low-fidelity prototypes might be harder to use for testing, and there may be better choices for demonstrating a product or concept to stakeholders. They lack the ability to be interactive, and they may require a little more imagination than high-fidelity prototypes. You'll typically need to remind users to ignore the lack of visual detail and focus on functionality.  

Related terms

  • High fidelity

  • Pain points

  • Task analysis 

  • User flow

  • Human factors

  • Information architecture 

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