Prototyping your app will lead to better results and more accurate development estimates.

Ricardo
Prototyping

There’s no question, clickable prototypes have changed the landscape of app development. With their ability to deliver realistic functionality, they provide a quick and efficient way for companies to get user feedback. Plus, from what we’ve experienced, it provides a much better way to estimate the actual cost it will take to build.

No one particularly likes to talk about the financial side of building the ideal app. Once more, the hardest and most daunting part of building an app is often in understanding the cost associated with building it. So why spend the time prototyping?

  • Promotes an Iterative design process
  • Provides earlier access to user testing
  • Saves time and money
  • Ensures you are building the right way the first time

Promotes an iterative design process

Prototype

When building any application, regardless of size, the sooner teams are brought on and made familiar with the app the smoother the process will go. Prototypes are great for getting the entire team involved sooner.

This naturally creates an iterative design process as people from other teams, designers, developers, potential investors and advisors have access to the app and can provide crucial data and feedback sooner.

This eliminates features being worked on for weeks that add little to no real value to the app. Cumbersome functionality can be refined, made more intuitive, or just removed altogether if deemed unnecessary.

Benefits:

  • Gets the entire team involved sooner
  • Provides earlier feedback without wasting time
  • Developers get early access to trouble shooting

Providing earlier access to user testing

User Testing

Nothing beats grabbing a device and seeing your idea in action, and to take that one step further, nothing compares to the feedback you get when you hand your application to someone who hasn’t used it before.

Clickable prototypes provide early testing in a controlled environment. Users can quickly navigate through your product in real time. Highlighting potential problems and pitfalls- Is there an icon at the top of the screen they keep trying to click to go back? Or a way something is worded that’s prompting and unwanted result?

The input you’ll receive from letting real world users get hands on with your product is truly priceless.

Benefits:

  • Collect real data on how users interact will your product
  • Provide hands on time to potential investors
  • Developers having a working demo to reference leads to faster development time

Saves time and money

Save Time

If your early into your product’s development budget has to be a top priority. Clickable prototypes allow you quickly work through planning your application while getting feedback from the entire team, placing your application in the hands of users and potential investors, and most importantly saving you money. Prototyping yields the same results as building an app in a much shorter period of the time.

By far the best thing about prototyping is if changes need to be made they can be done so on the fly without costly code updates. Prototypes are simply images and text, so things can usually be moved around and edited in a matter of minutes.

Benefits:

  • Make changes, edits and updates quickly
  • Guarantee you’re moving into development at the right time
  • Provide a working, clickable demo when requesting estimates

Ensures you are building the right way- the first time.

There are several ways to end up here, but the important thing is that the work is done prior to getting here. A lot of companies fail at properly planning their application. They are so set on getting to development and building “something” that the focus of what that “thing” is gets lost along the way.

The great thing about prototyping your product is these things can be reigned in early and kept that way. Keep the 1-2 things your app set out to do in the for front of discussion at all times and do not deviate from them. Obviously some functionality may need to be added, for example, the ability to sign in with Facebook. That’s a reasonable request.

Now do you really need fully customized calendaring system built? Ok, that’s debatable, maybe the short answer is: “No, the same functionality could be accomplished using the devices default date picker”. This is why getting your entire team involved early and working through questions like these is a must.

Prototyping will help ensure you follow these steps and if something does go off course correcting the ship is simply a few clicks away.

In summary

When it come to creating these prototypes there are several services that can accommodate. Here at the shop we’ve grown to love the simplicity of Sketch and how well integrates into the Invision App using a plugin called Craft. You can basically create wireframes in Sketch, then sync them with Invision (see fig. a below). It’s pretty powerful, as you create screens, edit them and add links to other pages the files automatically update live to Invision. We’ll be doing a full write up and tutorial on this in the future. One point to make here is use whatever tool(s) allow you to work quickly and effeciently, period.

Prototype

// fig. a

Every product I’ve ever worked on is drastically different. Whether it be a small teams of 2-3 people with a modest budget, or a large scale team of 20-30 people with an enormous budget. There is no such thing as a template for working of these projects, but having the right processes in place will act as a natural system of checks and balances to keep everyone involved with the project honed in on the ultimate goal.

Regardless of your process, every step of planning and building your app requires attention to detail, a narrow focus on core functionality and a clear vision of the end goal. There are several ways to get to this final solution and prototyping can be a integral part of process that saves money on development time with faster results.

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