How to Prototype for Your App or Website: Complete Guide
The significance of prototyping is undeniable when it comes to product development. It allows you to learn how your stakeholders and users feel about your product, identify areas for improvement, and pave the way for a quality product devoid of errors.
A prototype might not be the right tool for all projects, but for the right project, it can be extremely useful.
In this post, we’ll look at what a prototype is, the prototype process, and how to create an app prototype.
1. Prototyping: Features and Types
Prototyping methods and prototyping techniques can be categorized as low-fidelity prototypes and high-fidelity prototypes.
Based on the resources available to you and the purpose for prototyping, the prototyping method you choose can be either low-fidelity or high-fidelity.
Low-fidelity prototypes represent a simple and incomplete version of the final product. In a low-fidelity prototype, not all visual features and content elements are conveyed.
While it doesn’t take much time or effort to translate a broad concept into a low-fidelity prototype, it can be used to gather user feedback during the early stage.
####Low-fidelity prototyping methods
Wireframes are used to represent the basic structure of a website/ web page/ app. It serves as a blueprint, highlighting the layout of key elements on a page and their functionality.
With Creately, you can create clickable wireframes by adding links to the wireframe elements, that will allow your users to navigate from one interface to the other.
Storyboards are another low-fidelity prototyping method that helps visualize the user’s experience in using your product or how the user would interact with your product
There are multiple diagram types that can help you visualize different aspects of a product, which can in turn help you optimize your prototype.
- Mind maps can help visualize the structure of a system. You can use it to develop the idea in your head and identify the different elements of your product.
- Customer journey maps can help you understand how the customers would interact with your product across various touchpoints. Like with storyboards, customer journey maps will help you develop an empathetic understanding of the user.
- Flowcharts can be used to visualize user flows or system flows
You can use animation to visualize how your product works.
For example, if it is a mobile app, you can animate how a user would navigate from one screen to the next. This will help the stakeholders or users get an idea about the functionality of the product.
Compared to low-fidelity prototypes, high-fidelity ones are more interactive and highly functional. They represent something that is closer to the real product, with most of the design elements developed.
High-fidelity prototyping methods
a. Interactive UI Mockups
A UI mockup is a more fleshed-out version of the wireframe. It represents the color schemes, typography, and other visual elements that you have chosen for the final product.
Using the Creately UI mockup tool, you can create navigable UI mockups by linking the different design elements to other UI mockups representing various pages of your website.
The Creately Viewer will allow your users or stakeholders to navigate through the linked pages and get a closer-to-real user experience.
b. Physical Models
If the final product is a physical one, you can use different materials to create a model that represents the final look, shape, and feel of the product. You can use materials such as cupboards, rubber, clay, etc. here.
c. Wizard of OZ Prototyping
This is a type of prototype with faked functions. This means when a user interacts with the product, the system responses are generated by a human behind the scenes rather than by software or code.
This prototyping technique allows you to study the reaction of the user at a lesser cost.
2. What is the prototyping process?
Prototyping is the fourth step of the design thinking process.
Before you determine how you should go about the prototyping process, you have to have identified the users, defined their problem, and brainstormed and selected a proper solution in the form of a product or service.
Listed below are the steps in the prototyping methodology.
Start by brainstorming with your team to identify any obstacles that may delay or block your prototyping or product design process. Having these identified prior to designing will allow you to take precautions.
Select the Features
Your prototype won’t be able to represent all the product features, so you might want to select the key features that will help you gather as much feedback from the user as possible.
Sketch Your Design
You can do this on a piece of paper or a diagramming tool which provides complete libraries for wireframes, UI mockups, flowcharts, mind maps etc.
Share Your Design
Share your design with partners, stakeholders, etc. Ask for their feedback and mark where you need to make modifications to the design based on their requirements.
Continue to Develop
Apply the changes and develop your prototype by adding more features. Once it’s ready, you can share it with your stakeholders, partners, users, etc. again for their feedback.
3. Prototype Website Design
Here are all the steps to help you use tools for designing and prototyping features to create an adventure-based website from scratch.
Step 01: Guides, grids, and wireframing
To kick off the project, learn how guides and grids can help ensure precision as you begin blocking out your project in wireframing mode.
Step 02: Create dynamic layout elements
Learn how to use content-aware layout features like stacks and padding to create dynamic elements to setup your document for components.
Step 03: Working with components, character styles, and colors
Learn how to create reusable components and add character styles and colors to assets so that they can be reused throughout your design to save you time.
Step 04: Adding imagery
Whether you’re using Adobe Stock images or your own curated graphics, learn how to add them to the project to bring it to life.
Step 05: Prototyping interactions
Finally, bring the prototype together by adding interactions between pages and creating smooth micro-interactions to add extra fidelity to the design.
4. How to Create an App Prototype
The overall process of developing an app prototype would vary greatly depending on various factors. Though you can consider taking the following steps to work on the app's design and development,
Note the Issues and the App’s Features
To start with, you need to understand the pain points of your prospective customers and the issues they are facing. Keeping them in mind, you can come up with a solution in the form of your app and focus on the features that it would offer.
Work on the App Design
Afterward, you can use any reliable app prototyping solution (like Wondershare Mockitt) to create the overall app UI. You can use its built-in widgets to create various app screens and elements.
Work on a Clickable App Prototype
Once you have worked on the overall app design, you can establish links between various entities and pages. This would make your app’s UI similar to the actual product, and you could even test it.
Testing and Reworking
After coming up with the app prototype, you can test its functionality and rework the app's design. Instead of making edits on the final product, you can rework the prototype to save your resources.
App Preview and Development
Lastly, you can get a preview of the app prototype and check out the end-user experience. You can now export the app design into CSS or APK formats and send it for development.
Whether you’re attempting to present your final design idea to stakeholders or attempting to communicate with another designer, prototyping is the way to do it. It’s an essential skill for any designer.
Throughout your career as a designer, you will most likely create prototypes during each product development phase on every project. It’s useful to learn the lingo, the process, and the expectations of prototypes.