Prototyping method

Wizard of OZ

Wizard of OZ (also Smoke and Mirrors) is the act of faking an interaction as to give the impression the prototype is really working. Surprisingly it's a technique that's been in use for a while (see the Roomba from the 1959) and it is a very flexible technique that can be used to create vision pieces or fake complex interaction without requiring to actually build anything.

Good for:

  • Visualising and testing on ideas before investing any work in it.
  • Create a vision piece or a story around the idea you want to build. 
  • Create a scenario or story viewers can empathise with.

Bad for:

As a method Wizard of Oz can take many forms (e.g. video, mockup) so it really depends on the context it is used in.

Level of Fidelity


Because you are actually faking the technology behind your prototype the Wizard of Oz method allows you to achieve some rather high level of fidelity.

Stage of development


How to use

Wizarding your way around a prototype can be done in as many ways as the number of ideas you come up with. Start from the idea, what is it exactly you want to achieve? what is it that you want people to perceive or feel? The answer to that will give you an idea of which form you Wizard of Oz prototype should take. 
Video are a great way to tell a story around the product you are trying to design. With the help of animations you can act a lot of interactions and give viewers a feel of what your idea could be. 

You can also create a physical prototype people can use and have it controlled remotely. This a great way to create a rather complex interaction without requiring you to use any of the real technology behind it. 



Being such a flexible method that can take different forms it is hard to quantify how long it takes to learn it. A video will require you to learn editing techniques while building a physical prototype will probably require some tinkering and basic knowledge of electronic and/or some coding skills. Either way whatever you learn will be put to good use somewhere else so don't be afraid to try this method. 


In our experience Wizard of Oz is a rather time consuming process since it involves multiple parts (e.g. acting, video editing, coding). This said it can make a great impact when it comes to communicating a concept so if you need to really make a point then this is the method for you.