Developing even the smallest mobile application can take quite some time, especially if you do not plan for it properly. Many people even make them without any planning at all and end up with a product that is half finished and highly prone to problems. Lack of planning can disturb your goals, budget and development timelines in the long run. Exactly for these reasons, you need an app prototype!
Making an app prototype is easier for appreneurs with a technical background as they know the dos and don’ts of user experience – but for non-techies, if you have not contacted a mobile app development company yet and want to create a prototype for investment pitching – this article is for you!
In this article, we are going to discuss how an app project can benefit from developing prototypes and how to get down to building one properly.
The How: Process of Developing a Prototype
The purpose of a prototype is to provide potential and signed up clients with a view of what they would be getting by hiring your services. It not only provides a visual aspect of the application that you are building, but it also serves as a review point for tweaks and improvements. To get things right, you must develop the prototype using the proper process and that is what we have defined here for you.
1. Understand and Document Requirements
To make an accurate and true to requirements prototype, you need to fully understand what those requirements are. This would require in-depth consultation sessions with the client where they provide as much detail about as they can about the app. Insist on getting a structured document that outlines their requirements and identifies potential cross-functional elements as well.
2. Internal Brainstorming Session
Once you have all the information you need, start to analyze it internally with your development team to convert the requirements into actionable steps that would eventually lead to the final product. In some cases, you might also be required to do creative thinking and introduce additional functionality as requested by the client so prepare accordingly.
3. Start With Basic But Accurate Sketches
Giving detailed design input at this stage is not the priority as you need to clarify how the functions will look on the app. Focus more on UX than UI and make the entire structure look seamless and fully interconnected without breakpoints. Define each screen thoroughly and add as much information as possible that would help in the design step which comes next.
4. Creating Wireframes From Sketches
The next step is to convert the sketches into wireframes. These are basically low-fidelity outlines of the product that you have envisioned with accurately placed icons and text along with some explanation for each screen. The design aspect is still quite basic here and the purpose of this step is to pave the road for a final prototype. However, it is ideal to consider the platform you are developing for! If you are building an Android app, then go to the website of any Android app development company and look at the app screen dimensions and go ahead. Do the same for iPhone app. for a cross platform application, it is idea you develop wireframes for Android, iOS and web apps!
5. Designing the Final Prototype
Now that your wireframe is ready, you can start working on a prototype that would give the look and feel of an actual app. There are several tools that allow you to do that, some providing an incredible level of accuracy. This is also the stage where you put effort into developing the UI and make the app look pixel perfect for your client. You could either do this by yourself or hire a freelancer to do it for you. With an accurate design and functionality baked into it for that real feel, you are finally ready to present a completed prototype for your client’s review and feedback.
These steps will cut down development time significantly as you will no longer need to face tougher hurdles of changing functionality in code instead of design. Now that you know how to make a prototype, you might feel more motivated to do it after you find out why it is important.
The Why: Importance of Creating App Prototypes
Developing an almost working model of an app can provide several benefits, both to the client and the development company. It allows you to accurately gauge the reaction from your clients and use that to develop the final app exactly as expected. Here are a few reasons why you should consider creating app prototypes.
1. Create Better Conceptual Clarity
To develop a good mobile application, companies need to be extremely clear about what the app is expected to do and how it will do those things. An app prototype allows potential users to provide real feedback based on a real design that helps you map both the requirements and the feedback accurately. This leads to better incorporation of identified requirements into the final code and design. The result of this effort is an app that is as accurate and close to client expectations as one can hope to get.
2. Attracting New Clients and Investors
Sometimes app development companies work on their own ideas and present it to the world as their proof of performance and concepts. With beautifully designed and curated app prototypes, companies have a better chance of not only attracting clients but also investors if they are building something from their own ideas.
3. Improves Communication and Efficiency
With a visual reference point present for all parties involved, the level of efficiency in the development process can increase significantly. Communication becomes much more efficient as well and everyone in the team can understand their role easily and perform as expected. Clients can also stay informed of the development process and provide relevant and useful input to further improve the application if needed.
The importance of prototyping goes quite beyond the few points discussed here. It is a great way for development companies to get validated in the industry, make their development process much more reliable and cost effective, and ensure a working final product through thorough testing right from the beginning.
The only thing that remains is to figure out what level of fidelity you need in your application. This will be different for each project so start working on your next project accordingly. The process may feel longer at first, but in the long run, you are guaranteed to save both time and money on every application!