Developing a prototype, i.e. an example or model, is part of every software development today. But what are the advantages of a prototype, compared to simply creating a concept? And how do you make the step from prototype to finished product?
This is what the development of a prototype brings
A prototype can take various forms and can be very poorly developed or very accurate. Wikipedia defines a prototype as follows:
A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from. It is a term used in a variety of contexts, including semantics, design, electronics, and software programming.
The advantage of a prototype is that it can be changed more quickly and changes cost less money and time. Developing a prototype should therefore be at the beginning of a product development process.
A prototype can also be used to inform investors about a product or to gather first user experiences. A prototype should answer a concrete and not an abstract problem.
Prototype + User Testing = better products?
Prototyping can help you develop a great product.
It’s a comparatively inexpensive way to test an idea and get initial user feedback. If a prototype fails, it is far less bad than if a finished product would fail, because the investment was far less.
In addition, a prototype gives you the opportunity to completely rethink and redesign it, which is difficult to do with a finished product.
Prototypes are a good opportunity to gather initial user feedback and respond to it. However, it had better not be as bad as shown here&
High fidelity and low fidelity prototypes
When dealing with prototypes in software development, one comes across the terms "high fidelity" and "low fidelity", which can also be equated with "high tech" and "low tech".
A low-fidelity prototype can z. B. conceptual design using paper and pencil or post-its. Often the low fidelity prototype is also the starting point for the high fidelity prototype.
The high-fidelity prototype, on the other hand, presents the future product at a high-tech level. Designs are created here and often the high-fidelity prototype is fully functional. However, this also means significantly higher costs and time, which go into a high-fidelity prototype. Of course, low and high fidelity prototypes may be thought of as two instances, but rather as two ends of a spectrum in which there are many intermediate possibilities.
How should your prototype look like?
Before you start prototyping, answer the following questions:
- How far should my prototype be developed?
- How much budget and resources do I want to spend on prototype development??
- Who is involved in the development?
- What will the workflow and internal communication look like?
- How do I get initial user feedback?
- What tools are available to help me do this
The right tools
Especially if you are developing a high fidelity prototype, you need the right tools for your project.
Depending on whether you’re developing a mobile app or a browser application, the tools you need can vary widely. Also, depending on what point you are at in the development, you will need different tools.
So I can recommend this article where you can get a good overview of tools like Briefs, Atomic.io or Axure are preserved. Here you can see how different tools perform in terms of speed, high fidelity, user testing and customer support.
user testing used to be the last step in software development. As a result, user feedback could only be incorporated at the very end, sometimes resulting in costly changes. Fortunately, this has changed in the meantime and user feedback is now a part of any design process.
When you develop an application, it can make sense to ask users for feedback already on the prototype. Everything you learn in this step will save you from having to make elaborate changes later on.
The advantages of a prototype are obvious: you can show an example or model very fast, you save costs, resources and time. So it pays to plan the prototype development carefully, from tools to team to communication channels.
We at Usersnap hope you enjoyed this post and would love for you to follow us on Twitter. There we tweet regularly about web development, web design and UAT.
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