Rapid prototyping allows for your development team to generate a prototype of the final product that looks and feels like the real thing. In software and web development, this is an essential step, as you’ll want to get to know how the website feels and navigates before delivering it to your client.
We’ve compiled a list of five professional tips to help you rapid prototype with ease.
1. Focus on Function over Form
In design, it’s easy to get swept away in the aesthetics of the project. While you still want to make sure your product looks good, before this stage you have to ensure that it functions well too.
When you begin thinking about prototyping, remember that you’re doing do to test the product. The color schemes or graphics you’ve used won’t affect the usability and navigation of the software, website, or app you’re developing.
This is where wire frame tools can be extremely useful. They allow you to create a basic blueprint of the project, focusing on usability first and go straight to rapid prototyping before any colors are added.
This is especially important with websites. An element as simple as navigation can make or break a site. If your website doesn’t navigate well because you were more focused on design in the early stages, you’ll likely have to go back and redo some coding. Not an ideal situation for a developer.
2. Plan Beforehand
You can’t exactly create a working prototype out of thin air. This is where it’s important to have created a solid base of information and mockups before attempting to build a prototype. Without one, it’s like building a bridge with no blueprints.
You can use things like wireframe tools and mockups, and well as sketches and interactive designers to map out your project before jumping to prototyping.
When you have a plan in place, it shows not only professionalism and care but also that you are organized and dedicated to the quality of your work. Your reputation is everything in the development field; don’t risk it by planning poorly.
Do the work, create your preliminary designs, and use mockups before a prototype. Leave your clients feeling absolutely confident about what you’ve presented them with, so they’re more apt to purchase the final product and perhaps even offer you work in the future.
3. Don’t Ignore New Ideas
While you should stay focused on the design you’re working with, don’t ignore new ideas that may present themselves during the prototyping process. Ideas tend to build on one another, and sometimes they don’t appear until you see something in action.
If you find that your prototype is generating all kinds of new ideas, don’t be afraid to present them to the team. You may find that you’ve thought of a better way to code the website or a different navigation method that will make the website flow better.
Fresh ideas are the basis of any good design team. They drive creativity and production and should be taken into consideration. If you can make a product more streamlined and profitable, there’s no reason your team shouldn’t explore their ideas to do so.
4. Scrap Or Recycle Ideas That Didn’t Make The Cut
You might find that among your ideas generated by the prototyping process, some of them didn’t quite make the cut. That doesn’t necessarily mean they were bad ideas, just not relevant or useful in your product.
It’s alright to scrap ideas that didn’t work out, but you can also try recycling them. Chances are you may find a use for those ideas in a later project.
Don’t get too attached to your first prototype. You may very well end up scrapping it entirely or redoing thousands of lines of code and creating an almost new product. That’s part of the design process.
The prototype is there to display how your final product will function. That doesn’t mean it will function perfectly either. SOme prototypes need only minor adjustments to get them up to specifications. Some prototypes simply don’t work at all.
Be critical of your own designs, but not overly critical. Team feedback is important, and your own feedback is valuable to the rest of the team as well. Remember to communicate and share ideas in a professional manner for maximum cooperation.
5. Use The Right Tools
The web is home to thousands of prototyping tools for every type of design project; from website to mobile application design and software development, the tool your team chooses should reflect your needs.
Ask yourself what you need from a prototyping tool. Does the tool you’ve chosen have a steep learning curve? This could become discouraging for your team and even you, causing problems with deadlines as the team struggles to learn the new program.
If collaboration is an essential part of your prototyping, (which it likely is) you’ll want to choose a tool that makes sharing and collaboration simple. The ability for multiple users to collaborate at once is a useful aspect of any tool, but not offered by every prototyping tool.
Finally, you’ll need to consider the cost of the tool you choose. If it doesn’t fall within your budget but offers everything your team needs, you might need to stretch the budget to accommodate it. This will be used again and again in future projects, so it’s a good investment either way.
Prototyping Is The Last Step Before Implementation
Your prototype will display to the customer and your team how the final product will function. While you may find errors, be sure to focus on creating a functional and stunning prototype to ensure the customer’s satisfaction and minimalize the need for future edits.