Proof of concept only goes so far in today’s world. The fact is that it’s hard for customers to buy into a product that’s purely conceptual. Software isn’t cheap and customers want the assurance that they’re buying a tool that not only meets their needs, but improves a certain business operation through a more streamlined, automated, and centralized process.
The bottom line is that clients want to actually see, feel, and experience what the final product will be. This is where the importance of prototyping really comes into play. While you may think that prototyping will only slow down the development process, it actually does just the opposite.
Here’s what you need to know about when and why you should use prototype design software.
Is Prototyping Really Necessary?
While it’s another phase in the development process, the fact is that you do need to prototype software, especially if you want to create a successful end product. Being able to show a customer how the product will work allows them to experience the software before it’s purchased. This eliminates the need for everyone in the room to visualize what the end software may look like.
Prototyping also removes any confusion and allows customers to notate any new requirements or needs before you’re weeks into developing life software. Designing a prototype is also beneficial in that it:
- Validates a concept
- Tangibly represents how a product should work
- Increases collaboration and tool validation
- Is beneficial for early testing
With a prototype you can better develop a proof of concept for the internal project team, test the logic of the piece of software, sell an idea to a client, and provide more thorough user testing.
When to Prototype
If you’re familiar with the SDLC, you should be well aware of the robust planning, requirements gathering, and collaboration that goes on in the early stages. Before you ever start to develop an actual piece of software that will be delivered to a client, you want to first prototype the design to ensure it meets customer needs.
Prototyping should always occur during the early phases of the project. Take the time to turn concepts into reality so that the project team, stakeholders, and your end users can see how the final product will function.
By prototyping, you’re not only more likely to get customer buy in, you’re also able to mitigate the risk of what’s known as waterfall development. This often causes each of the involved project teams to work in silos, which leads to a lack of collaboration.
Be aware that a prototype isn’t a one-and-done solution. Instead, it should be a living product that’s routinely updated and used for testing throughout the process. Get a new customer requirement? Unsure if a new feature can be feasibly added? This is where having a prototype really comes into play.
Prototyping is beneficial in an endless amount of ways, no matter the type or complexity of the software that’s being developed. Being able to put ideas and concepts into fruition is a key step in ensuring that the project team, stakeholders, and end users are on board with what the final product will look like.
Using prototype design software is also helpful in that it allows for more thorough and expansive testing. The sooner you’re able to identify bugs, flow issues, and other problems, the better. It’s extremely costly and time consuming to rewrite and rework a piece of software, especially when the final product is almost ready.
Prototyping can be used for much more than testing how software looks and works. With early phase planning you’re able to more efficiently test logic and feasibility. With a prototype designers and developers are able to collaborate in a sandbox environment. This is the best way to test new functionality requires and concepts.
Lastly, prototyping is beneficial in that it allows customers to have a say in the product. When a client can see a working model of their product, they’re able to give immediate feedback as to what they like and dislike. This helps to eliminate miscommunications and misunderstandings that often occur during the development process.
The Bottom Line: Prototyping Is Beneficial
What’s great about prototyping is that it truly benefits everyone involved in the process. By prototyping a design the project team can work towards the same end-goal while providing feedback and collaborating throughout the planning and design phases.
At the same time customers and end users are able to get a tangible representation of how the final product will work and what kinds of features will be available.
By prototyping a design, you’re able to iron out any kinks before actual development occurs. This helps to ensure an end product that meets all of your customers’ needs.