Prototyping & Software Development
Prototyping is a proven method for product design. Prototyping translates the customer needs and desires, presented in the form of text, voice recordings, and sets of illustrations, into a visually designed prototype of a digital product.
Prototyping is used to identify both missing or incorrectly defined requirements and unverified assumptions by demonstrating what a product looks like and how it works in the early stages of development. Prototypes can be non-working models, working representations, or digital renderings of a solution or proposed product. They can be used for website layouts, serve as part of the working design of a product, or describe processes using a series of diagrams. Business rules and data prototypes can be used to discover the desired process flow and business rules. Data prototyping can be used to clean and transform data.
Every successful product starts with a prototype!
Let's look at some of the benefits of prototyping in software development,
At the development stage, it’s crucially important to have a united vision of the project. Here’s where the prototype serves as a visual aid to make sure that all team members share the same project objectives and have a clear understanding of the plan and requirements.
Reduced time and cost
Prototyping can improve the quality of requirements and specifics provided to developers. Because changes cost exponentially more to implement as they are discovered later in development, getting ahead of what the user really wants, ensuring long-term product quality and cost savings.
Minimized Code Rework
Having a detailed project plan minimizes new requirements that lead to code revisions and developers' extra work. Flaws, bugs, and other issues can be detected early in the development stage. Prototyping is a platform for various implementations and benchmarks for the product. It allows a quick product performance overview to make appropriate decisions.
Improved and increased user participation
Prototyping requires user participation and allows them to see and interact with the prototype, allowing them to provide better and more complete feedback and specifications. Having a user-explorable prototype prevents many of the misunderstandings and micro-communications that occur. Because users know the domain problem better than anyone on the development team does, increased interaction can result in a better end-product.
Methods of Prototyping (Babok 3.0)
Throwaway Prototype (Sketch, Power Point, Miro, Visio, others)
This prototype method is generated using simple tools (such as paper and pencil, whiteboard, or software) to reveal and refine requirements. The prototype may be modified or refined during discussion and development, but it does not become workable code and is not maintained as an end result once the system or process is implemented. This prototyping technique is useful for defining functionality or processes that are not easily identified by other methods, that have conflicting viewpoints, or that are difficult to understand. These (one-time) prototypes can be a low-cost tool for identifying or validating requirements beyond the interface, including requirements related to processes, data, and business rules.
Functional Prototype (Axure RP, Web, Python, others)
Functional prototypes are created to expand on the original requirements for functional solutions as the requirements are refined through the use of a functioning prototype by stakeholders. This approach creates a working solution and usually requires a specialized tool or prototyping language. Such prototypes can be used in the final solution. If specialized software is used, business processes, rules and data can be modeled to assess the impact of changes and verify desired results.
Benefits of Prototyping (Babok 3.0)
- Provides a visual representation of the future product
- Allows stakeholders to participate in the creation and receive feedback early in the product design process
- When using one-off prototypes or paper prototyping, users may feel more comfortable criticizing the layout (of the product) because it is not "polished" and not ready for release.
- Narrow in scope but deep in functional depth, the vertically oriented prototype can be used for feasibility studies, proof of concept, or to identify technology or process gaps
- Risk of going too deep into the details at an early stage of product development
- Dependency on the technological stack of the product
- High expectations of the stakeholders
- Risk of form over content dominance, at the development stage
Prototyping in the life cycle of Agile project
- The prototype is updated with each iteration
- The prototype allows you to better understand the expected result and identify inconsistencies in the early stages
- "Live" prototype can be used for the development
- The prototype can be used to prepare self-tests of complex logic
Choosing prototyping tools
The choice of a prototyping tool is of great importance, and should consider such elements as,
- Fast prototyping
Here’s a short comparison of the two widely used prototyping tools
- Simple interface
- Fast wireframes creation
- Looks like a hand-drawn sketch
- You can link pages
- Export to images, pdf format
- More professional, great functionality
- Sketch of the small details
- Prototype looks like a finished system
- You can link, set up events and completely imitate the behavior of a real system
- Export & the ability to use the browser version for sharing, which is hosted in the Axure Cloud
- Security when sharing a project
The cost of the development time is high, that’s why prototyping models help get accurate feedback from the stakeholders and users early on, minimizing financial risks. Getting valuable feedback and identifying bugs and threats ahead of time is critically important.
There are a number of prototyping tools to test ideas before they are fully developed and create an improved user experience. Prototyping is one of the easiest ways to save financial and time resources and to avoid any resentment at the development stage. Contact one of our experts for a professional consultation on the best prototyping tools for your product development.