Prototyping is essentially testing your ideas in a simple but tangible way
Prototyping can help you find flaws earlier in the design process, by testing assumptions you may be making about what will work
The process of prototyping can also help you generate new ideas as you go
Samples created for prototyping should be low time investment and low cost. Paper Prototyping is a great way to get started. It's pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Use basic, easily accessible material like paper to sketch out your ideas in a visual format.
Design Thinking Principles
Using design thinking principles can help you structure your prototyping process.
There are many variations on the steps to the design thinking cycle, but a common version is as follows:
Observe and empathize
Explore and create
Build and deliver
Iterate and improve
Simplified, the cycle can be represented in the diagram below: