Why Developing A Fully Functional Prototype Is A Smart First Step

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When a new product is being designed, software or otherwise, it’s very rare that it can be an overnight success. This is where functional prototypes come in to save the day in terms of the beginning stages of development.

Even more so if it’s being developed by a competent team such as Idyllic.

What Is Prototyping?

Prototyping is an iterative process in which design teams turn abstract concepts into concrete forms, ranging from physical to virtual. To document design ideas and test them on people, teams create prototypes of varying degrees of detail. 

You can modify and verify your designs with prototypes so that your company can launch the best version of your products.

Are There Different Types Of Prototypes?

The answer is yes. As they are such an important step in the design process. Whether it’s for tangible products or software ones, there are plenty of types to choose from. Classifications can differ, but for now, we’ll stick to the 3 main types you can opt for during your software design process.

1. Low Fidelity Prototypes

This is the most basic version of a prototyping method. It offers absolutely no functionality, but just some minimal shapes and simple titles in order to offer a visual outline prototype of the future product.

Potential customers will be able to scroll through it and provide some feedback, and while it is helpful, it is also minimal. In fact, some of these may not involve any software at all. Paper prototyping significantly reduces creation time with all the upside of receiving valuable first impressions that can then be used to inform new prototypes.

Low fidelity prototypes are cheap and easy to create, making them a perfect solution to validate a concept, begin to identify core users and outline key user journeys.

2. Mid-Fidelity Prototypes

When you have a validated concept and initial user workflows, this working prototype allows for some interaction from the people testing it. 

Certain graphics, and more complicated features such as animations, will most likely be missing from this version, but the users will still get to experience, to a certain extent, what the product is like, and provide some valuable feedback. 

The nice thing about Mid-Fidelity Prototypes is that you don’t have to be a designer or developer to create a suitable version. There are several approachable software tools that can stitch together an interactive prototype such as InVision, Balsamiq, Figma – and the list goes on. 

3. High Fidelity Prototypes

The high-fidelity prototype is as close to the final product as you can get. In fact, it can be mistaken for it, as it includes almost all the graphics and functions of the website or mobile app. Good designers will be able to create your views and craft user flows for a smooth, interactive experience. If you need a more flexible or live prototype at this stage, talk with some software developers for cost-effective options.

This mock-up is great for usability testing, providing all the information needed from potential investors or future customers in order to be improved before the official launch. 

What Are The Goals of a Functional Prototype?

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As we’ve established, a functional prototype is a high fidelity prototype of your software product, which mimics almost perfectly the finished product as you’ve envisioned it. The goals of this type of first functional prototype are many and important in the design process.

First, taking advantage of its functionality, when users test it, they react exactly as they would if they were interacting with the final product. This way, you can test their experience with it, their behavior when using it, and their overall satisfaction, with high fidelity (it has it in its name, after all).

This advantage is not only for your future customers, however, but for investors as well. When you are looking for funding, having a fully functional prototype at hand can help provide a good example of how amazing your final product is going to be, thus drawing investors in.

Moreover, if your product is intended to be used on multiple devices, you can test it out on all of them and see how well it works and what still needs some tweaks or improvements. 

The prototyping development process

According to GeeksForGeeks, the prototyping process, or better-said cycle, revolves mainly around user feedback. After all, that is its main purpose: to allow for modifications to be made according to the way the users perceive it.

The process of prototyping begins with the gathering of requirements. Based on said requirements, a prototype is created. The user is given the opportunity to evaluate the prototype that has been built. The specifications are improved based on client feedback, and the prototype is appropriately adjusted. 

This cycle of gathering consumer feedback and making changes to the prototype continues until the client signs off on it.

What Is Your Next Move?

Now that we’ve presented you with all the particularities and benefits of a fully functional prototype, are you ready to take this step? 

With a functional prototype, especially if you are a business at the beginning of the road, you will be saving yourself from the trouble of having to make major changes on an already launched product, and have the luxury to have all of your necessary feedback right from the get-go.

Not to mention that, if you have your development done by a team of professionals such as the one Idyllic offers, you will be saving money and energy as well. So why wait? Contact us and let’s get to work on your software product prototype!

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