A user prototype—one of the most powerful tools in product discovery—is a simulation. Smoke and mirrors. It's all a façade. There is nothing behind the curtain. In other words, if you have a user prototype of an e‐commerce site, you can enter your credit card information as many times as you want—you won't actually be buying anything.
There is a wide range of user prototypes.
At one end of the spectrum are low‐fidelity user prototypes. A low‐fidelity user prototype doesn't look real—it is essentially an interactive wireframe. Many teams use these as a way to think through the product among themselves, but there are other uses as well.
Low‐fidelity user prototypes, however, represent only one dimension of your product—the information and the workflow—there's nothing there about the impact of visual design or the differences caused by the actual data, to mention just a couple of important examples.
At the other end of the spectrum are high‐fidelity user prototypes. A high‐fidelity user prototype is still a simulation; however, now it looks and feels very real. In fact, with many good high‐fidelity user prototypes, you need to look close to see that it's not real. The data you see is very realistic, but it's not real either—mostly meaning it's not live.
For example, if in my e‐commerce user prototype example, I do a search for a ...