Yes, your project may look completely fine as a mockup, but it will lack the essential traits of the final product. For that, you need something else. Enter the concept of a prototype.
Cheap and fast?
Unless you’re completely new to development, you may have heard about the holy “good-cheap-fast” triangle. And how difficult (if not impossible) it is for developers to cover all the bases.
Good + Fast = Expensive
Good + Cheap = Slow
Fast + Cheap = Inferior
It is that simple.
In app development, the rule boils down to the following:
- coding fast involves more resources, sleepless coding nights, higher pressure from the client and, inextricably, premium rates,
- cheap development usually involves economising (usually on tests) and, which compromises the overall quality of the final product.
It is natural that startups want the best of both worlds. We understand it. They need to show the app to investors, get more funding, improve the product and… repeat. The faster they build the first working version of the app, the sooner they can launch the product on the market as an MVP, and start testing it on users. This approach, however, puts immense pressure on cheap and fast development. And without quality, your product is doomed to fail.
As a developer, can you successfully develop cheaply and fast at the same time? Yes, but there is one simple condition: you should know exactly what to do with the app. Clearer specification means more efficient development.
What is a prototype?
Clients like seeing the app, and find ploughing through hefty documentation rather tedious. But don’t get me wrong on this one. Prototyping is not just a trick to excite your clients by showing them a fancy user experience. It helps you, in the first place, by saving you lots of time that would otherwise be spent on endless revisions, running in circles.
Prototypes can either be made on paper (simple as that) but usually involve interactive wireframing tools like Axure or UXPin. They help understand what the app is expected to do and how it should look.
At Briisk, we help our clients by building interactive wireframes of their apps before a single line of code is written. Our project manager sits down with the client and specifies the design requirements. This is our contribution to the app creation process, and the benefits are plenty: the development is faster, shorter and cheaper. All without detriment to quality.
Benefits of prototyping
Prototyping does not need to be very elaborate. We believe that even lo-fi forms of prototyping can bring great results and help avoid unnecessary dead ends. In other words: the more time we spent on prototyping, the better you know the scope of work needed for the project.
Prototyping goes beyond app documentation. While documentation may be prone to controversial interpretation, the experience of using a working prototype makes the app development process easier and clearer, both from the point of view of the client and the developer. Interaction with the prototype, or simply toying with it may trigger another level of imagination, helping you and the client spot potential pitfalls and possibilities.
Contrary to wireframes (mockups or documentation), prototyping is unparalleled in terms of hands-on experience. This effectively helps in communication, with fewer misunderstandings and clarification requests from the client all along.
Unlike a prototype, specifications set out in a document are much harder to interpret, visualize and digest. At Briisk, we recommend prototyping as early as possible to set priorities for the project and, potentially, drop some of the less important or completely unnecessary features.
The importance of prototyping becomes most evident when, early on in the project, you realize how effective it is to show the team (or the client) how much has been done.
Prototyping is a win-win situation. Its benefits are important for the client as much as they are for the developer. As developers, we are more likely to get the programming right if there is a prototype to start with, leaving less to imagination and conjecture. For the client, prototyping minimizes the need for exchanging lengthy clarifications and descriptions of the implemented functionalities and offers a possibility to pitch the idea to the potential investor much earlier in the development process.