Oct 28, 2020, Design

Take Your App for a Test Drive with Using Prototype

Ewa Zielina UX Designer

The primary definition of the word “prototype” is: the first example of something, such as a machine or other industrial product, from which all later forms are developed. In my opinion, it is a clue about this topic because we currently have a lot of definitions and variations for this word. Of course, we (as software makers) use the word “prototype” for a digital product, not a machine or industrial parts, but the basic sense is the same – to make an example of the product. 

The most popular ways of prototyping are manual (paper) or digital (clickable mockups). On a daily basis, we use digital prototyping. In order to make a clickable prototype we need wireframes and software that enables us to create interactions between the screens.

Why do we prototype?

We can’t imagine a good design process without prototyping. It gives us the possibility to sample the product, communicate with the client and the rest of the development team, improve it, test it and as a result – implement faster. Building quick prototypes can help us to conclude which version of the functionality is better, so we can turn them into real projects as soon as possible.

If possible, we try to use a real copy (text) in our prototypes, not fake lorem ipsum. 

It helps to improve the user experience at this stage and simplify the interaction. Also, we use our prototypes to check the feasibility of user flows.

What do we gain thanks to prototyping?

There are many benefits of prototyping – for both digital agency and its clients. The undeniable advantages are:

  • We save a lot of time (and client’s money) in the development process 
  • We can confirm or rule out the hypothesis from earlier stages
  • We can make changes quickly and more effectively
  • We can test it easily with other people and target users
  • They’re non-binding
  • We give a good opportunity to be collaborative, close with the client, and stakeholders

What possibilities does it give?

Testing! Yes, it is one of the biggest values of prototyping.

Of course, we can test a prototype in a lot of different ways, for example: user tests, corridor tests and more. Every form of testing is a good opportunity to check how the demo product works and how people interact with it. Observations made during testing can give suggestions and tips on what we can improve to bring out the value of the product.

Be careful! There are traps!

Sometimes, clients or stakeholders can forget that this is just a prototype, not a final product. In this case, they get the wrong idea that the final application/system will look and work exactly the same as presented. We can make prototypes similar to applications but never the same (taking under consideration UI layer, micro-animations and native app solution).

The other thing is that while working on a prototype we can easily and quickly make some changes in order to test it again. This possibility can create a misleading feeling that the developers team can make the same changes in the actual application so fast as well. It’s definitely not true, and it’s one of the things that designers should point out to clients. Only a prototype gives us the possibility of fast adjustments and also, this is the exact reason why we work on prototypes at the first stages of the process – we make changes BEFORE it gets coded.

So do you need a prototype?

To sum it up, a prototype is a powerful tool that gives everyone in the project a clear picture of the product and its context. Developers can prepare for the upcoming project thanks to a clickable prototype and see the logic of the project. Designers and developers can use it on various levels of product creation. On each of those, it is important to watch and listen to how people use and interact with the prototype. Oftentimes, small changes in details can improve user feelings of interaction with the product.

It’s good to use this tool to work on a project, so we always use it. You should definitely consider working with a digital agency that can offer you a prototype before they start coding and designing. Let us know about your business goals so we can create something unique and phenomenal.