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Prepare test

Make ideas tangible

Equipped with a promising idea, we now embark on the test phase. By casting our idea swiftly and simply into a concrete form, we are able to put our solution to the test.

Experiment with a sense of curiosity

In day-to-day life we’re constantly trying out how things taste or feel, or what reaction they evoke. Prototyping is based precisely on this principle of curiosity, combined with a structured approach. By determining early on what works and how, development of the idea can be honed based on values and then discarded or advanced with a view to saving resources. The Prototyping Basics indicate the dimensions and well- established formats available to enable rapid learning and adaptation.

Prototyping Basics

In order to go beyond following our intuition when developing solutions, prototype testing enables us to collect qualitative and quantitative data that supports evidence-based decisions. Before we start creating a prototype, we plan our approach to testing using the Assemble Test Base template.

Prototyping Basics

Almost all patterns of action in public administration can be experientially redesigned and tested according to different “orders of design” (Buchanan, 2001):

  • Communication: Signs, visualizations, simple language
  • Construction: Products, rooms, furniture, hardware
  • Interaction: Services, processes, software
  • Integration: Organizational structures, laws, systems

Achieve your goal more cheaply, quickly and effectively

The need for structured experimentation will increase in the public sector in the future. This is because working with prototypes can produce key insights and data bases, especially in the case of complex problems. Instead of implementing a solution at great expense, it can be validated first. This also allows for better preparation and implementation of legal amendments.

The German government supports this approach:

“In order to be able to better assess the practicality and effectiveness of regulatory alternatives, the Federal Government will, in appropriate cases, test them in practice with [...] persons/organizations concerned [...], e.g. by means of business games, simulations or model trials. [...] Only then are the corresponding draft regulations to be adopted by the Federal Government.”

Arbeitsprogramm Bessere Rechtsetzung, 2018

Work sheet Prototyping Basics (Cycles and Dimensions)Work sheet Prototyping Basics (Formats and Scope)

Assemble Test Base

Assemble Test Base

What is it and what purpose does it serve?

The test base provides the foundation for creating a prototype and testing it. This overview contains all the necessary information required here: from the key data required to develop the prototype through to details of how to organize the test situation.

Added value

All knowledge and task packages are presented coherently at a glance. This creates a communication basis for involving test subjects, reporting to managers or delegating tasks within the team.

The test basis can be used to summarize the limited amount of resources required to test an idea with a view to its value.

The mistake is often made of designing a solution that is based too much on the project team’s assumptions. Ultimately, however, the deciding factor will be what is important to future users. So before we design the prototype, we start by defining who the test subjects will be.

Assemble Test Base

Work sheet

30 – 45 minutes


  1. Transfer template into a large format. Have material ready. When it comes to processing, follow the suggested flow and answer the stimuli questions in the individual fields. Note down key points. The further stages involve methodological elaboration of these basic ideas.

  2. Start with the prototype development area. First, briefly describe the idea to be tested in order to set the framework for further elaboration (1). Based on this, formulate test hypotheses to clarify which functions are to be tested using the prototype (2).

  3. Consider who should be included in the test group based on the components to be tested. In addition to previous key actors, include individuals with strong or extreme needs. These marginal groups can determine the specifications for the prototype and point the way to a suitable format (3). Develop key points for the concept prototype: these will provide an important basis for effective prototyping (4).

  4. Move on to the organize test area. First outline the test situation. What is the context in which test subjects provide the most authentic feedback? Describe the situation and the setting (5). Plan implementation based on this (6).

  5. Determine the resources required (7). Consider who has contact with the people in the defined test group. As with the preliminary talks involve allies and partners: in Phase 3 to recruit test subjects.

Note: Testing on marginalized groups enables aspects to be investigated that can in turn contribute to a solution that is beneficial to everyone.