min read ·
March 17, 2021

A Guide on Prioritising Ideas When Prototyping

In design thinking, some decisions are easy to make and are almost automatic. Meanwhile, others are more challenging and take more time. You can decide what type of tea you would drink in less than five minutes. However, it can take a while longer for you to choose a way forward when coming up with a new product or process.

To make better decisions, you need to understand the decision-making required in different contexts. For prototyping, you would benefit from knowing how to synthesise and prioritise ideas. Here are things to remember when you're choosing which ideas to pursue.

Map Relationships Between Data

Affinity mapping is one of the first things you do when prioritising ideas. When you map, you uncover the relationships between various pieces of information. It is a flexible, intuitive, and collaborative process, and it leverages our natural inclination towards seeing patterns and groupings.

Affinity mapping examples
Affinity mapping examples

A disadvantage to affinity mapping is that when the people involved have no clear outline, it can cause them to go around concepts in circles. Prevent this by having categories for your ideas before mapping. For example, if you're prototyping an inbound marketing program, you can group ideas into ones for attracting, engaging, and delighting customers. You can further divide these groups into smaller categories if you have a long program or campaign.

Identify the Ones That Serve Your Needs

After you have grouped the ideas into categories, you can separate the ones you want to implement from ones you want to shelve. Here are tools and methods to use when deciding between seemingly equal options. These are important in ensuring that you have a user-centred design.

Impact Effort Matrix

Value effort matrix example

This tool allows you to list ideas based on their potential to create an impact, technical feasibility, and business viability. It is beneficial when you're deciding between two attractive choices. Besides impact and effort, you can use risk and value or time. It is vital to choose factors you can quantify, things that, when they increase or decrease, have a readily observable effect.

Dot-Voting Method

Dot-voting example

Dot-voting lets you narrow ideas down until you have an agreed-upon solution. Dot-voting can be the preliminary exercise if your concepts are on a level playing field. This method lets you provide criteria for alignment and provides more weight to vital stakeholders' opinions.

Scorecard method

Scorecard example

A scorecard allows you to evaluate ideas based on different criteria. It is best when you have more than two factors to score. Using scorecards is helpful because you can add weights to multiple criteria, which is a realistic way of considering factors. Not all factors are equal, and some things should matter more when you are prototyping.

Buy-a-Feature Framework

Buy-a-Feature framework illustration

This method allows participants to "spend" play money on proposed ideas or features. The result is a hierarchical list of initiatives valuable to the clients, employees, or team. This framework allows you to make decisions when there are limited resources. You can also use this whether you have a small or large team. Units can even come together and negotiate or align their spending based on how they spend their pooled money.


Alignment can be a drawn-out process, but getting everyone on the same page during prototyping is essential to moving forward. When building a new product or service, you will invariably need to choose some ideas over others. The methods we shared will surely help you in your goals.

Create digital platforms that provide maximum business value when you partner with Fabric Group. We use principles in design thinking to create UX experiences that your audience or clients will remember. Schedule a consultation or contact us today for enquiries!


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