Economic use of early-stage prototyping is of paramount importance to companies engaged in the development of innovative products, services, and systems because it directly impacts their bottom line. There is likewise a need to understand the dimensions, and lenses that make up an economic profile of prototypes. Yet, there is little reliable understanding of how resources expended and views of dimensionality across prototyping translate into value. To help practitioners, designers, and researchers leverage prototyping most economically, we seek to understand the tradeoff between design information gained through prototyping and the resources expended prototyping. We investigate this topic by conducting an inductive study on industry projects across disciplines and knowledge domains while collecting and analyzing empirical data on their prototype creation and test processes. Our research explores ways of quantifying prototyping value and reinforcing the asymptotic relationship between value and fidelity. Most intriguingly, the research reveals insightful heuristics that practitioners can exploit to generate high value from low and high fidelity prototypes alike.

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