One thing GovJam will teach you is how to prototype. Prototyping is about getting real, and it’s about getting tangible.

What is a prototype?

A prototype serves to provide specifications for a real, working system rather than a theoretical one.


  • A physical item (new device, adaptations of existing things)

  • A recording of actors showing how a service might be executed

  • A clickable interface

  • A paper storyboard/sketch where test users can touch or indicate what they want to do

Why do we prototype?

To make thoughts tangible


  • To give your thoughts shape

  • To experience the idea/concept

  • To find a language everyone understands

  • To improve our thinking and inform our decision making

To test

  • To find out what’s relevant to the citizen

  • To check what would make your service ideal

  • To expose blind spots in a process

  • To introduce service concept to outsiders

  • To learn what works and what doesn’t

  • To allow the idea space to collide with reality

To present

  • To share an idea in your head with your team

  • To deliver a picture of what can be done

  • To communicate ideas and share within teams or the public

  • To learn by having others interact with the prototype

What types of prototypes are there?

Different types of prototypes answer different sorts of questions.

What kinds of prototypes might we produce?

For GovJam, specifically, you might end up with these kinds of prototypes:

  • designs for services

  • change proposals, supported by research

  • designs for physical things (devices, models of spaces depicting a service, etc.)

  • designs for digital platforms or apps

Here are some examples of the physical or digital "things" that Jammers might want to develop during the Jam and upload to the GovJam HQ:

  • service blueprints

  • user journeys

  • mock-ups of tangibles (forms, tickets, ads etc)

  • in-use scenarios (desktop walkthroughs or service walkthroughs on video)

  • wireframes

  • paper prototypes

  • working websites

  • photos of cardboard, wood, clay or lego models

  • sketches


We've put together a page of useful resources that you can use for your prototyping

Prototyping is a different way of working for many people - it's the difference between the "talking" way and the "doing" way:


[Adapted from GovJam Toronto 2013 Guidebook]