In the technology jungle where mobile apps are slowly becoming just as ubiquitous as websites, prototyping your product with or without a mobile app design company on-board can be a challenging and expensive affair. A prototype is an incomplete or raw version of application being developed. Not only do prototypes help you reduce time and costs, but they also help you identify key issues in your user flow and design that would be even more expensive to fix later. Below, we have defined the &Apps approach to effective prototyping!
Define your application in simplest manner possible. Include the bare bones such as the purpose it serves, basic functions, features of the application among other things. Also include any information you have about market demand. You don’t want to wake up six months after launch day and realise that 77% of your so-called users never actually ended up using the app 3 days after installing it.
Here’s a real client anecdote to illustrate the effectiveness of the “Define” phase of prototyping an app. One of our clients was in the agriculture business and came to us with an unusual requirement. He wanted to connect local farmers with people who want to buy organic product. We recommended a P2P social platform application as a solution connecting farmers to consumers. This simple solution didn’t contain too many bells and whistles, so the client was a bit reluctant. However, after we made him an effective prototype based on this definition, not only was the product adequate, but it surpassed usage goals, and the client came back to us with a heartfelt appreciation for helping him save money and still build an app users would love. Other things you might consider in the “Define” stage include USP, budgetary restrictions, target user behaviour as well as the branding ‘feel’ you want the app to convey.
Your idea may sound highly convincing to your family and friends. It may feel like you’re going to get rich quick. However, the true litmus test for your idea is proper market research. Research plays one of the most important roles in gauging the true worth of your idea. When conducting thorough market research, you must use everything from qualitative information such as reviews from appropriate professionals, systematic literature searches, as well as quantitative data like surveys, web traffic, social engagement among other analytics tools.
You also want to cap off your research by creating user personas that will help to communicate a roster of features, non-negotiable and brand guidelines to help designers and developers create the user experience you have envisioned. With the advancement in UI/UX design, Personas are being used extensively in mobile app designs to create a realistic user base to test your product against. Keep in mind, however, that as powerful a tool as this is for target market research, personas are only worth the research that you put into them.
Armed with your market research, you can begin to build a low-fidelity wireframe. Wireframes are the skeletal structure of your app – just bare bone raw structure without any design elements. Today, wireframing is easy with the tons of drag & drop apps like Balsamic, Justinmind and Sketch to name a few. Not only is the process quick and dirty, your wireframes can get surprisingly high-fidelity in a short span of time with these apps. Interactive wireframes also help you gain clarity about the functionality, adaptability and viability of your app.
So, now you have a high-fidelity interactive prototype of what your app is going to look like. You’ll want to your mobile app prototype to the test and step-by-step go through the process of redefining your wireframe based on user flow and interactions. Usability tests are a crucial component in the process of creating a well-flowing application. Repeating your tests and tweaking each subsequent is key to ensuring your prototype is not just aesthetically pleasing but functional as well.
Don’t be surprised if you or your team miss things even after carrying out usability tests. It is common for startups and tech firms to find some loopholes when putting prototypes to the test even if the application looked perfect on paper before you began your testing. Iteration is an integral part of designing and developing an application. One thing to keep in mind – make sure you note down the patterns and problems that your participants experienced in their journey is essential while carrying out a usability test.
At the time of having feedbacks from users and stakeholders it is impossible to execute every comment on board so it is better suggested to be concerned about changes that will have major impacts.