As an entrepreneur interested in building your own app, you may be excited to dive straight into the app development process. However, before you can play around with any beta versions of your app you will have to undergo a planning and modeling process for the mobile app called prototyping. Prototyping is the design phase during which an app design and planning team convert the concept behind an app into a concrete, visible model. These teams review the initial concept for the app, and develop potential models for the app to demonstrate and validate this app concept. During the prototyping phase, design and planning teams explore user behavior, app-navigation and the usefulness of each of the features.
To make prototypes for an app, designers create models of the app as both physical drawings and app wireframes: a prototype usually starts as a sketch on paper, but then becomes a mobile app wireframe.
A critical part of the UI (User Interface) process, the wireframe can be a blueprint for how your app will look design-wise, but more importantly the wireframe structurally maps out the user workflow and journey, page-by-page. A wireframe lays out the mobile app, illustrating which interface components will occur on the most important pages. A wireframe is not a usable app, but it does show you how an individual would navigate the app. Ultimately a prototype (as well as the sketches and wireframes that accompany the prototyping phase) connects your rough, initial app concept with the final version of the app through visual and workflow modeling.
How Does a Prototype or Wireframe Make the App Development Process Smoother?
A prototype or wireframe at its core provides clarity for a client about the mobile application’s workflow. This prototype communicates both the product’s design elements as well as the workflow: literally, how the user is meant to navigate page-to-page. A wireframe plays a key role in development because the more clarity you have about the product’s design early on in the process, the more you can maximize your team’s efficiency during the actual design phase. The visual layout of a prototype removes the doubts that a team would have during the initial stages of development, and allows all teams to move forward on the same page. Of course, any team will find bugs and errors in their initial development models, but a prototype allows you to spot these bugs early and correct them before launch. With prototypes, you have more time to make crucial changes to your mobile app design and user experience before your product goes to market. One of the key benefits of prototyping besides finding workflow gaps is pinpointing opportunities for further development. If team members have differing visions for the app’s outlook and functionality, prototyping often reveals which developmental direction would be most efficient to take, and which directions may not be feasible budget or programming-wise. Furthermore, the prototyping stage dovetails nicely into the user testing phase – learning how users interact with your app reveals new solutions to the problems you may have missed during the sketching or wireframing stage. You can make all of these changes during the prototyping phase, meaning you are ironing out substantial kinks to your app before a developer writes even a single string of code. Finally, prototyping allows for open collaboration. Once the team sends out initial models and wireframes for the app, everyone from the designers to the developers to the business team can get a better sense of the app’s development every step of the way. More traditional app development models involve investors and product managers later, making in-team collaboration more difficult than in the prototyping model.
How Can Mobile App Prototyping Save Time and our Business Money?
Quite simply, if you catch problems early on in the app development process, you can save money by eliminating major UI/UX corrections. When an investor or developer can see the workflow model, they know how the app looks before there is a fully developed beta version. By catching hitches in the workflow early, the team has less chances for changing the workflow later – thus saving money, time and effort on reworks. By providing clarity to your client early on in the process, you will keep the client invested in your process. Without clarity about the app’s workflow, you run the risk of your client or investor losing faith in your team. The mobile app development market is changing — developers are having to prioritize efficiency, even when their teams get stretched thin. The most effective way to ensure efficiency during mobile development is to lead an organized team where both developers and designers enjoy the benefits of open communication. Prototypes are a visual, easy-to-process tool in the communication process between the design, programming, and product teams, and therefore carry value beyond their technical design aspects. Without prototypes or wireframes, a team can run into communication and functionality problems early on in their mobile app development process.
How We Prototype?
OpenSource Technologies, as a mobile app developer, is very versed in mobile app prototyping. With clients, OpenSource follows a straightforward workflow: before prototyping we ask questions related to the client’s business in the aim of understanding their idea. We then come up with multiple wireframe iterations during the prototyping phase. When our clients have an idea for an app, even if they don’t know concretely how that idea will work in app-form, we can create a prototype for them. If a client comes in with a prototype, we can work with that prototype too. We conduct our prototyping as follows, though the process always differs depending on the needs and vision of our clients: At the end of the day, the prototyping process is designed to make the work process smoother between the client and the developer. Prototypes produce clarity about how the app will be developed and quite literally how it will look each step of the development process and user journey. Without prototypes, teams might be running in circles to fix workflow-related and design problems: In worst-case scenarios, without prototypes one part of the team might even create bugs that another part of the team must then deal with. Prototyping may seem counterintuitive: if you have a programming team, why spend time drawing out the app longhand? But because you catch bugs and hiccups in workflow early through prototyping, you can redirect time and money to the programming and launch phase. To speed up the mobile app development, you must first slow down and sketch the requirements for the app.