Prototype is an early preview of an unfinished product. What most people don’t know is that the final product’s design is not the prototype design they approved. But it’s going to be an improved version of the prototype.
A prototype is made by the product development team (alpha) and also a (beta) version is made for the customer to review how the product would turnout. Most products fail at the prototype stage as they are not done properly according to the customer’s requirement.
At the end of this post you will learn the proper way of prototype designing with Wireframes and Mockups.
There are many steps to be followed before making a proper prototype design. The number one priority is to get the requirement right. Usually the features and specification are given to the business analyst of a company. Software companies use a document called SRS (Software Requirement Specification). This document consists of every detail extracted from the customer. This document is for developers and it’s strictly technical. Once the specifications are received by the development team, they start working on all the technical aspects, while designing team works on the designing front.
This is where the disconnection happens where a proper modeling of requirement is not done. Prototyping will fail to meet the expectations of the customer for 2 main reasons.
- The most obvious reason is not listening to the customer
- Not using modeling tools
What customer need might be a simple application, but developers think big and try to convert everything to code. This is a mistake made by them that could give disastrous results at the end.
The best way to overcome these designing mistakes is to have 3 designing stages of the product instead of one. While getting the aid of modeling tools, in each stage you get to correct your mistakes and refine according to customer’s requirement.
Stage 1: Wireframes
Wireframes are the blueprint of customer’s requirement. Wireframes are used early in the development process to establish the basic structure of a product before visual design and content is added. It’s a skeleton based 3 dimensional sketch that could easily be drawn by a talented artist while listening to the customer. It is always recommended to follow the respective documentation while doing the wireframes.
Wireframes provide a basic understanding about the structure and the initial overview of the product and features specification. This stage is very important as the future designs of the product are purely based on this. If it is a product design, wireframes can be refined until it’s the right one for the next stage. Website wireframe designs are usually followed as templates.
In some companies, wireframes are only used by the design team and the development team. But I recommend that every team involved in the product including the customer should take part in this stage. Only then will they be able to understand what the customer needs then and there.
Stage 2: Mockups
Mockup is the second stage of the product designing process. By now you should have an idea about the product you implement. It’s a refined version of the wireframe where features are much clearer than wireframes. In the mockup stage, user is able to get a summarized idea of how the actual product design is going to look.
If it is a product design, it should be a life sized model and if it is a software, it should be a real demonstration of how the product will look when it is released.
State 3: Prototype
This is the final stage before a product is launched and here after there won’t be any changes made to the design. The reason behind prototype being the final version of a product is the refinement it receives through the reviewing process done by the customer and the team.
Now it’s time for the most important phase in the prototyping stage. You should test your prototype before moving forward. The prototype should be tested for many aspects. These tests are called the user acceptance testing.
- Functionality Testing
- Design – User experience Testing
- Integration testing
- Integrity (security)
- Unite Testing
Except UX (user experience) testing, all the other methods of testing are done in the (Alpha) release of the product within the development team. The (beta) is released for the customer and according to the feedback, the user experience will be improved.
If you follow these 3 stages properly, your prototype design will create the perfect product that will be successful. You could use a wireframe & mockup software such as Creately to get your team to collaborate with you when creating your prototypes, hence avoiding miscommunication that may cause you to redo the work. It’s important to know that you shouldn’t skip any of the stages or else your product will fail.