Non-Finito prototyping: A technique for digital-physical product design

Maryland B

UX researchers and designers are used to putting prototypes in users’ hands to observe how they interact with products. But what if we put intentionally unfinished products in users’ hands? Not just low-fidelity, but intentionally unfinished or even broken?

We’ve used “non-finito,” or unfinished, design for prototyping to gather user feedback. Rather than creating a complete workflow or experience and seeing if we got it “right” during testing, we deliberately leave a hole in the experience. Seeing how the end user might fill this hole to inform and inspire the design.

The notion of non-finito has been talked about in terms of digital products, but we see clear benefits in using it to shape integrated, digital-physical products. Rather than a discount prototyping approach, non-finito is an exploratory feedback method for continuing to discover needs as you’re moving beyond a product’s core workflow.

Entry level Tools and Techniques