Prototyping can improve your app’s UX. Recently we’ve seen an increase in the number of clients requesting to build and test a prototype before developing a full mobile application.

Creating apps isn’t a simple process. It can take hundreds of hours to create apps, much of which is taken up by development. Prototyping should be integral to the way apps are built and so this blog post explores the benefits of prototyping and why it often results in a better end product.

Prototyping is the same idea as car companies creating concept cars to test their new design concepts before going into production, or aviation firms building prototype engines to test before releasing the product into full-scale commercial production.

Bringing the designs to life

Prototyping helps to bring the User Interface designs to life and allows clients and users to simulate and test the concepts on an actual device. This makes it easier to identify user experience issues, in comparison with viewing the wireframes and designs on paper. Pete Horsham, Senior UX Designer at Mubaloo explains, “Prototyping, coupled with user testing practices, enables us to ensure the most intuitive experience is created for the user.”

Allowing the user to play with the device in hand enables them to spot issues that may otherwise not get picked up until the app is in development. It then becomes difficult and expensive to implement UI changes once the app is in development. Prototyping overcomes this and allows you to thrash out issues prior to coding commencing.

Acting as a proof of concept

App prototypes can be a powerful and cost effective way of selling a concept to stakeholders or clients. As Mubaloo’s Senior Strategy Consultant Richard Newhouse explains, “Prototypes are great for showcasing the app, or key parts of it as part of a sales or related activity, before the app is finished”. They can be used to secure funding from senior management or sell concepts to clients in a B2B2C environment.

Identifying technical challenges early

A common issue when developing mobile apps is whether web services are available, as well as whether a client’s APIs are suitable for mobile. Where web services need to be changed or built from the ground up, can often lead to project delays.

By building a prototype first, these issues can be identified early and better prepare the client for the technical challenges ahead. Mubaloo’s Senior Strategy Consultant Richard Newhouse explains that they can allow ‘internal project teams and key stakeholders to test the wireframes and provide assurance before development starts”. When we actually start developing the app, the web service issues have been tackled and ensure a smoother development phase.

For anyone developing an app, building a simple prototype can help to reveal how easy, or complicated the user journey might be. There are a number of tools available for this, but it’s still often worth working with companies who fully understand mobile, to help improve prototypes before going into development. Building a prototype first helps to test and iron out your concepts, creating better apps that people enjoy using.

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