Why Software Prototyping Should Be a Crucial Part of Your Development Process

Why Software Prototyping Is Important

Let’s start by assuming you’re working on a big software project. The app is supposed to attract millions of users and will take quite a long time to develop. So you have stacked up a sizable budget, assembled your mighty crew of designers, developers, and UX experts, and started the development process.

After a few months, your app is all ready. You’re happy with the final product, although it has some real flaws. And with the “no software is perfect at first” thought, you decided to let your magnum opus hit the market without any software prototyping. But here comes the nightmare; the feedback is crushing, and the product is receiving harsh criticisms. You overlooked those essential features, and now, you can’t just add them at this point, meaning you have to rebuild the whole app.

Wherever you have lacked, you just wasted a good deal of time and effort because of something you didn’t think of in the initial phase. Now you need to go through all of it again with more redundant work. But you know where you had the chance to skip it? If you had opted for prototyping in software development in the first place.

We’ll let you have a guess here: What do you think about how many services or products fail in the market?

As per reports 66% of technology projects (based on the analysis of 50,000 projects globally) end in partial or total failure. Click To Tweet

Regardless of the numbers, you can imagine how hard it is in today’s market to make a new product succeed among users. So, in this column, we have decided to show you what software prototyping is, how it can help you avoid such fail scenarios, and much more. Here’s what we’ll discuss in greater detail.

What’s Prototyping in Software Development?

What Is Software Prototyping

A software prototype is like a mock-up of your goals and ideas in the initial phase of production. It’s a crucial part of the overall process of developing a web or mobile app. Through the prototyping process, developers would draw up a blueprint of your app to determine what the final version would look like. Everyone can quickly review the software in terms of design and user experience and provide relevant feedback on scopes of its improvements.

Hence, prototyping helps you try out your ideas ahead of time and implement changes before you and your team spend an awful lot of time and money. It’s one of the five phases of the design thinking methodology through which developers create tangible solutions to complex issues.

Wondering if you won’t have the time to build a prototype? Don’t worry. Prototyping in software engineering does not need coding at all. It will be just a quick mock-up created by your UX expert or designer so that you can ensure the finished product looks just the way you planned it.

How Can Software Prototyping Help You?

Importance Of Software Prototyping

Let’s understand this more simply. You have an exclusive vision for a new software. Your idea might be really elaborated or might not be very different from others. But that’s fine. All you need to know is if your plan will work out.

So you hire a top-rated software development company to create a prototype of your future software. You can determine the possible efficiency of your app through testing and feedback and sort out any problem or missing feature before the ‘real’ app is developed.

Yes, you may think your app is perfect, and there’s nothing to change. But building an app with a software development partner is a lengthy and expensive process that needs to be very well thought out to have a successful outcome. Sure, you can make post-launch corrections, but a prototype will help you visualize the final product before investing resources in its development. Hence, you can avoid overhead hassle and cost in the long run and deliver the value your app is supposed to.

There are multiple other benefits of software prototyping that we’ll discuss further in this read. Hang in there!

Who Should Opt for Software Prototyping?

Although the benefits of prototyping seem to be exceptionally crucial in software development, is it for everyone?

Absolutely! From developers to designers, everyone should prototype to find out the downsides and come up with new prospects for the project. As it does not involve any codes, prototyping can help you test the imperfections of your software and plan a beneficial and feasible development process accordingly.

Are you looking for seamless software development services with appropriate prototyping?

When Should You Use Software Prototyping?

Since everyone can create a software prototype, can they do it at any point?

Not really! On a case-to-case basis, companies need to decide if prototyping in software engineering will be useful for a particular project or not. Here we’re mentioning some scenarios and considerations where developing a prototype would be the best resolution during the software discovery phase.

  • When the development team is not clear about the requirements of the software
  • Extensive projects with strict deliverables and deadlines
  • When the requirements of the software are unsettled and subject to change
  • When the systems are complex and software-intensive that need the lowest risk and experimentation

Now that you have got the basics of software prototyping. let’s try to understand the process a bit better, going ahead with the various types of prototyping.

Are There Any Different Types of Software Prototyping?

Based on the project category, there are three major prototyping models you can choose for your desired app.

1. Throwaway Prototyping

This technique is pretty self-explanatory – once the software design is finalized, the prototype is “thrown out.” Designers carry out this method over a short period of time and promptly create a rough sketch of your future app. It’s also known as rapid prototyping and may also include some of the primary functionalities.

With the help of this technique, once you and the developers understand the early requirements and know what to look for in the final version, the prototype is either entirely discarded or reused partially. Thus, throwaway or rapid prototyping requires a quick and little effort, allowing you to gather feedback and implement it fast,

2. Evolutionary Prototyping

This prototyping method is also what its name suggests. It starts with the basics and empowers the software to develop and evolve over several iterations.

The evolutionary prototyping technique is way more effective than the throwaway one. It includes some coded features from the beginning rather than a simple mock-up based on design ideas. Developers build the user interface on codes as well so that users can actually see and use the prototype just like the finished product. Through a series of feedback, you can add more advanced functionalities leading to the final product.

3. Incremental Prototyping

Though this prototyping process may sound similar to evolutionary prototyping, there’s a huge difference between these two. Incremental prototyping focuses on splitting the whole software into several modules and sub-modules and managing them separately, unlike evolutionary prototyping that starts with the basics and grows on the skeletal structure.

Each module in this technique consists of its very own prototype that is developed over time. In the end, all the usable prototypes are united to build a single, final version of your app.

Other Types

There are other types of software prototyping as well that can be classified as per the level of details you want to incorporate in your prototype. For example, a prototype with detailed design and features is called a high-fidelity prototype. On the contrary, a very fundamental, low-effort prototype is known as a low-fidelity prototype.

Once you hire software developers, they will use appropriate prototyping tools and UI designs to offer you the best possible results of this development process.

What Factors Should You Consider for the Best Type of Prototyping?

The models mentioned above are reasonably efficient and available in the market if you want to build a prototype. But bear in mind that selecting the appropriate prototyping technique eventually depends on certain factors as follows:

  • Cost
  • Time
  • Precision
  • Scope

Want to plan a software strategy that is future ready for wavering market demands?

How Does the Software Prototyping Process Work?

Most developers follow a defined process for building prototypes, just like they do in the software development process itself. In case you’re thinking about how a top-rated software development company would work on prototyping your app, ensure they follow the below-mentioned steps.

1. Analyze the Landscape

Carefully examine the present market and evaluate your own strategy. Know what technologies are available there and what your prototype needs. Focus on what you want to incorporate into that software and build it with that inspiration in mind.

To create a prototype that will align with the latest software development trends and speak for your business goals, such basic knowledge is absolutely required.

2. Define Core Requirements

Do thorough research on the trending needs of the users. Be in their shoes and try to understand the problem so that you can give the best solutions. Remember your app will only be successful if the users like it.

For that, try interacting with your current and/or potential customers. Conduct surveys and ask them if there’s anything they would want to see in such an app. Do they actually need it? If so, why? Will your app be able to provide those functionalities? And so on.

Process Of Software Prototyping

3. Understand Your Competitors

Discover if there’s a similar app in the market dealing with the same issue. Identify your competitors and gather more information about their products. Can your product bring any change? Such expertise will help you figure out your unique selling proposition. So look into possible hurdles as well as opportunities for your prototyping process.

4. Build an Initial Prototype

You can use prototyping tools or just a pen and paper to draw up the blueprint of your app. This basic version includes the general arrangement of the product’s functionality and appearance outlined by you in the beginning.

It might be a low-fidelity prototype on paper that arbitrarily defines the primary structure of the app, shows up a few functionalities, and explains the user flow throughout the app.

If you want more detailed prototyping in software development, the development and design team might use some special tools and UI design to develop a more comprehensive and complex prototype.

5. Evaluate and Review the Prototype

Test the prototype with your stakeholders and users. Find out potential drawbacks and high points of your future app. Moreover, you can use this opportunity to propel customer engagement. Ask for constructive feedback from the people testing the prototype and let your developers know what they want in the finished product.

Such understanding of your users’ perspectives will also help you gain valuable marketing insights and develop strategies.

6. Revise and Revamp the Prototype

Utilize the gathered feedback to polish your prototype up. Developers can easily make improvements at this stage, and it does not need much of their time as well. So once again, evaluate your prototype with potential end-users and ensure you got everything on the right track this time.

Besides, a little more trial and error will not do you any harm. It’s essentially a good practice that will encourage you to be creative at problem-solving. After this, all you have to do is to oversee and approve the process so that your developers can get on their work!

What are the Advantages and Drawbacks of Software Prototyping?

So here comes the bigger question: Should you build a prototype or tell your developers to go straight to the coding part? Don’t worry. To help you make a clever decision, here’s a set of pros and cons of prototyping.

Advantages of Software Prototyping

Prototyping can offer you a wide range of benefits to streamline your development process without any unnecessary cost and hassle. So brace yourself as here comes the long list!

1. Start Right Away

Building new software from scratch can be a hectic task. You can’t really be sure of all the functionalities you want your app to offer. Does it mean you have to delay the development process? Not really. For a start, tell your development team a few ideas so that they can create a rough sketch for you to get started. Gradually, you can revamp your prototype for better results.

2. Get a Clear Vision

Remember the second step in the software prototyping process? Defining core requirements! Before your developers start working on the prototype, they would want to know your expectations from the software. And once the design process begins, the software will get a more definite look and feel. This will sort out a significant problem for both the developers and you:

  • Once you see your app on the screen, you can interact with it and understand if you want to change anything. Your idea may come about a lot better than you had planned. If not, you can easily inform your developers about the missing part in the prototype.
  • Even if your developers skip something in the requirement defining stage, now they can be pretty clear about everything the software should offer. Additionally, they can detect any potential downsides or create stronger logic behind your software’s functionality. They will also be able to inform you about any obstacles or risks they might encounter in the development stage.

Benefits Of Software Prototyping

3. Earn a Visual Guide

If you want to see quick outcomes, this is probably the best part about prototyping in software engineering for you. While a low-fidelity prototype will help you ensure you have got the basics of your software right, a high-fidelity prototype will let you interact with it and provide you the actual form and shape of your app once it’s done.

You can even click on buttons, surf through different screens, and ensure a smoother flow of your app.

4. Accomplish Greater Creativity

As you might have guessed already, the process of software prototyping demands intensive communication where ideas flow without any constraint. To collectively pitch in and fix problems, all the development team members, including you, should foster a great level of collaboration and transparency. Especially while working out any flaws, creativity proves to be useful in leading your app to perfection.

5. Initial Testing with Users

Let’s say you’re planning to build a new software for your organization. Your employees are the end-users here, and they might face some difficulties catching up with this change. A prototype of your software can counter this problem for them as it can help you identify any issue before the start of the development.

Here are a couple of strategies you can implement to get to the bottom of it:

  • Testing by End-Users
  • Your software will only be successful if it can cater to your employees’ needs. Take the prototype on a test run with a number of end-users and allow them to go through it. Ask them to share their feedback, take it seriously, and incorporate feasible comments. For instance, if they’re finding a particular feature hard to manage, ask your developers to simplify it.

  • Prototype as a Training Model
  • Build your prototype with adequate functionality and quality and let your employees use it. This is also a great prototype testing strategy as you can further improve the software based on their feedback. The end-users can even continuously use the high-fidelity prototype until the launch of the new software, making the shift to the final product easier and simpler.

6. Time and Cost-Effectiveness

Last but not the least, prototyping in software development will help you save a significant amount of time and money in the long run. Take the same example we mentioned in the last point. After your software is completely developed, what if you find it’s missing a vital functionality that is imperative for your business? Your developers’ hard efforts and your valuable money – all go in vain.

Don’t let this happen to you. Identify the possible stumbling blocks with a prototype and avoid making any post-launch changes.

According to Statista, the value of IT services companies delegated to external suppliers may exceed $413.72 billion by the end of 2021. Click To Tweet

Drawbacks of Software Prototyping

To all of our surprise, we could think of only two pitfalls of software prototyping!

1. Building a prototype can lead to an endless development cycle if your end-users have internal disagreements or are indecisive.

2. The evolutionary prototyping process can result in a disjointed software than if it was built at once.

But can these cons really outweigh its glaring pros? We don’t think so. Think about all the time, money, and effort you’ll save. As for the first issue, effective communication among all is the key to solve it. And for the second one, establish your expectations and goals very clearly so that even if you want to make any changes in them, it does not affect the development plan altogether.

Build a cost-effective software prototype that is compatible with your business needs

Software Prototyping with Radixweb

Can you afford not to build a prototype for your desired app? The answer is no, if you want to skip irrelevant delays in your development and save resources. The sooner you know about your future software, the better prepared you and your team will be for the work ahead.

Above all, you get the opportunity to innovate and create. Try out your ‘crazy’ ideas at this phase rather than later in the development process when they become too risky. It’s better to have the time and patience to prototype instead of coding the whole thing all over again.

We can help you here! As a top-rated software development company across the world, our proficient developers are well experienced in building prototypes as per clients’ requirements. So reach out to us with your vision of a great application, and we will help it come to life with the minutest difficulties. We promise the prototype will be truly rewarding for you and your business objectives!

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Pratik Mistry is a rare mix of technologist and vice president of sales at Radixweb. His passion lies is in helping companies to grow revenues by delivering top notch software development services and build value-based partnerships. When not driving high-impact go to market strategies, Pratik loves to try new cuisines and going to the movies.