Imagine you’re in the process of developing a new app. It’s a complicated project and it will take a long time and workload to finish it. You’re excited; this app will be downloaded by thousands of people.
Finally, after months of intensified work of designers, developers, and UX experts, the app is finished. In your opinion, the final product is great. There are some issues, but who cares? No application is perfect.
After going to the market, the product that you’ve worked so hard on receives harsh criticism. Users hate it and they don’t hesitate to express their dissatisfaction. You have to rebuild the app.
And you could avoid all of that by using software prototyping.
What is software prototyping?
The process of software prototyping consists of the development of limited functionality versions of a digital product. During this process, developers and designers build an approximation of the final product to test out specific features and get feedback before releasing it to the general public.
Software prototyping is the penultimate stage in design thinking which is a methodology that allows the developers to solve complicated issues and propose reliable solutions. The role of the prototype in design thinking is to serve as a draft preceding the development of the original product. Having acquired this draft, developers can proceed to the last stage: prototype verification.
Why is prototyping important?
You may think that your project is flawless, and there’s no need to change a thing. Even with this level of confidence, it is still important to put it to the test, and prototyping can facilitate this process. Why so?
First of all, it gives the client an idea of what the final product may look like. As previously stated, a prototype is an approximation of the final product but even this unfinished version can significantly improve the development process.
For the clients, the prototype is like a promise of the final product; they don’t have to buy a pig in the poke. Prototype makes it easier to comprehend the idea, even if the concept is complicated and hard to understand.
Moreover, already at the design stage, software prototyping allows you to get rid of unnecessary functions and leave only the important ones.
What are the advantages of prototyping?
It reduces risk
If you want to avoid the scenario from the beginning of the article and reduce the risk of failure to a bare minimum, consider implementing software prototyping. It not only provides you with valuable feedback but also allows you to focus on the most important aspects.
It allows detecting errors earlier
Software prototyping makes an earlier detection of errors in the product concept possible. Thanks to it, problematic issues can be solved quickly and efficiently. Detected and eliminated in the process of prototyping, errors won’t disrupt the development of the complete version. It also reduces the time and cost of implementing changes in the final product.
It improves and increases client’s involvement
Software prototyping allows the client to take part in creating the system. This kind of cooperation can be beneficial for both parties; clients can share their opinions and critiques, and the dev team is fully aware of clients’ requirements and insights.
What are the alternatives to prototyping?
Prototyping is not the only available option to evaluate the potential of the product before its release.
Proof of Concept
One of the interesting alternatives to prototyping is the Proof of Concept. The PoC is a realisation of a method to demonstrate its feasibility or verification of the practical potential of the concept. The PoC is proof that it’s possible to develop the product.
Thanks to the PoC you can verify if your idea is really worth implementing, and consequently save your money if the concept turns out to be unnecessary. The biggest difference between the PoC and prototyping is that the first one shows that a product or feature can be developed, while the second shows how it can be done.
Minimum Viable Product
Another interesting option is a minimum viable product. The MVP is the first instance of the product; it has increased production readiness and includes just enough features to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future development.
Think of MVP as a process that allows developers to test, optimise, and provide proper solutions. Does it sound really similar to the definition of prototyping? Rightfully so, as MVP is a prototype at its heart, but it’s further developed. The MVP feels more like a product, whereas the prototype resembles a draft.
Prototyping can be extremely useful in the process of product development, as it is an approximation of the final product and it enables the verification of ideas and initial concepts.
Although it’s not the only available option that can improve the process of product development, it’s definitely worth checking out.