A wizard of Oz prototype fakes functionality that you want to test with users, saving you the time and money of actually creating it. Wizard of Oz prototypes often refer to prototypes of digital systems, in which the user thinks the response is computer-driven, when in fact it’s human-controlled.
How to create a Wizard of Oz prototype
Determine what you want to test. Then figure out how to fake that functionality and still give users an authentic experience.
You can combine existing tools (tablets, email systems, Powerpoint) with human intervention to create the illusion of functionality.
The company Aardvark needed to test user reactions to their online interface for connecting people with questions to qualified people with answers. Instead of coding, they used an instant messaging system and team members behind the scenes to physically route questions and answers to the right people.
Wizard of Oz prototypes can be extended beyond the digital realm, to physical prototypes. You could prototype a vending machine without building the mechanics behind it—using a person hidden inside to deliver purchases.
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