Prototyping: better communication and smaller expenses
In 2007, when Steve Jobs introduced the first-ever iPhone, in his presentation he seamlessly used many different iPhone models (prototypes). The reason for that was simple. One iPhone could not perform every task and was not able to contain every single function of an iPhone. But presenting the iPhone through prototypes, it was possible to introduce the iPhone as a complete product. Prototyping has been included in the UX methodologies from product design and is connecting designers and developers. Creating a prototype is a very important step in the UX process that usually comes after analysis and mapping the client’s needs but before design and development.
In Trinidad Wiseman, we usually use Axure RP software that enables us to create high-quality prototypes fast. Our prototypes can also be used in usability testing and as an input for further development. Prototypes are visual but do not have the final design implemented yet. They help to create and test system’s navigation, elements’ content and positioning etc. Prototype are necessary inputs into the development phase.
Just giving descriptions of how a system will work is usually not the most understandable way to test a product or service. An interactive prototype will, however, be able to closely simulate what will be developed in the future. Clients will then be able to share their thoughts with the designers right from the beginning of the project. Therefore, prototypes make the communication between the client and designers easier and the client will see what are the necessary steps for a product development.
Creating a user-friendly solution requires considering users’ needs and wants in the development process. No designer can know what are the users’ actual needs and problems without prototyping and testing. The main mistake is that designers and developers create a system that they think is good but the main user is not considered.
Developers will also benefit greatly from prototypes as these can be used as a basis for further development. Prototypes help to limit the confusion about what has to be done and how, and therefore, lowers the final cost of a project. Without prototyping and testing, the shortcomings and problems of a system will be identified too late and usually, the system will not be user-friendly. The UX methodologies were not followed and the system has to go back to the development phase.
For example, here you can see Trinidad Wiseman’s Axure RP prototype for a Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications’ self-service system:
Prototyping and testing help to understand
- how the end user uses the system;
- what are the hidden problems;
- how is the interaction between the user and the application;
- which is the best navigation and the overall structure.
Prototyping helps to test systems and ideas yet in development. It will make the development processes more effective and the system will suit the client’s and user's’ needs more precisely. Prototyping is not expensive but will make sure that there will not be any additional costs because of the faulty development phase. Have fun prototyping!