If you’re new to the concept of prototyping before you dive into the development project, it might seem like a strange idea at first. Prototyping is usually done at the end of a development project to give stakeholders and potential users a working version of the final product. There are, in fact, times when you’ll want to make a prototype before you begin development. Here are five such occasions when you may need to make a prototype first.
1. When You Want to Visualize Your Concept
Unfortunately, what sounds good in our heads doesn’t always look good on paper, and vice versa. Often, ideas seem great until they’re put into production, and then you find that they simply don’t work or impractical to produce into a tangible product or service.
If you have a concept, but you’re looking to actually see that concept come to life, prototyping before you begin the development process can help. You’ll create a prototype of your idea to see what it will look like, to ensure the ideas you’re churning in your mind match what’s actually possible on paper and in terms of production/development.
This is a great way to pitch ideas as well. You’ll probably need a team to help you develop your project, so providing the team with a representation of what you’re talking about will help them visualize the future of the project and (hopefully) support your vision.
Investing in a prototype early on can also help save you money if the concept turns out to be impractical or simply not viable. Why spend hundreds or thousands of dollars over the course of several months or years on a project if you’re not even sure of its usefulness or practicality? Don’t gamble with your money; create a prototype and figure out whether or not your idea is worth investing in.
2. When You Need Financial Support
While investors like ideas, what they like better is a visualization of those ideas. An idea is fine in the concept stage, but without some kind of prototype to accompany your business/marketing plan, you might find that securing that all-important investment capital becomes a challenge.
Securing capital is already a task in and of itself, so you don’t want to make it any more difficult. Be sure to pitch your product to investors with a prototype of some sort, so they know what they’re investing and what the product should look and feel like once its completed the production/development phase.
Prototype design tools can help you create low and high-fidelity mock-ups or wireframes that can act as a sort of prototype for web and app developers. The great thing about these tools is that you can share your designs along the way, keeping stakeholders or clients updated during the design process and beyond.
3. When You Need Market Feedback
Unsure how your target audience will respond to your product? Prototypes are a great way to connect with potential customers and gain valuable feedback on your designs from the people that intend to purchase them upon completion.
This insight can help you identify issues and make changes early on in the design process, which is always simpler than going backward to make adjustments. Not to mention, edits can become quite costly the further you get in the development process, so fixing issues early on becomes a cost-effective necessity as well.
Feedback can also come from stakeholders, team members, and other sources as well. You might not even notice a specific flaw in your design until the prototype is presented to the team or your investors. It never hurts to have an extra pair of eyes!
4. When You’re Trying to Cut Down on Costs
If you have limited funds to work with, you’ll want to cut down on as many costs as possible associated with your project to remain in within your budget and increase your profit margin. Prototyping early on can help mitigate costs, preventing a full-scale, costly development from taking place if the concept isn’t ready.
Learning that your idea is too costly halfway through the development phase can mean a lot of wasted time, money, and, not to mention, stress. You’ll want to be sure you can handle the cost of both development and production by creating a prototype first to gauge the financial burden of the project. Your team will undoubtedly be grateful for a project that doesn’t shut down halfway through its development.
5. Maximizing UX/UI
The user is the most important component of your design. They determine the success of the project and decide whether or not the app, website, or software you’ve developed meets their needs. That’s why it is so crucial to remember both UX and UI in your designs.
With an early prototype, you can properly measure these components and gain a better understanding of how your users interact with and use your software or website. This understanding will help you make improvements, and therefore better appeal to your customer base once the project is completed.
Prototypes have many advantages for a development team; from saving time and money to improving both UX and UI of a development project. Using a prototype early in the creative process to gauge market interest and solidify your concept will help you succeed later on and develop something your users will love.
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