Why do you need a prototype?
What if aircraft builders assembled airplanes without blueprints, architects erected structures by eyeballing , and tailors sewed our suits without taking measurements? In most cases, nothing good would come out of it. Developing an application without preparing a prototype, too, can lead to very different results than you expected.
What is a prototype?
It's a draft of an application which shows the main interface pages and the navigation. You need a prototype to understand how the application will look like: evaluate the quality of the user interface interaction in time, see the problems that arise during the interaction, check if it's the effect you expected and fix everything without having to redesign the application from scratch.
How a prototype is created
It's created in one of the stages of mobile app development, the prototyping stage. Many designers first draw it by hand on paper or a whiteboard, and only then draw it in graphical editors. A static or interactive prototype is already born in these editors, very similar to the final version of your product. The first represents a set of screens for your future application and shows the location of all interface elements. And the second, clickable, allows you to evaluate its functionality and how easy it is to use your application.
What advantages does a prototype have?
The prototype helps to check that all the planned functionality is considered and that it will help to solve the user's task. For example, a loyalty program app should make it easy to find available points and pay with them, while a cab ordering app is great for quick communication with the driver.
Prototype allows you to simulate user scenarios, conduct UX testing, and learn about user problems when interacting with the interface. Whether it's convenient to register in the app, set up filters, fill out fields, or pay for an order, anything that might get in the way of achieving your goal will be easy to fix.
Saves time and money
If you don't use a prototype, all bugs and flaws are already detected during testing, or worse, after release. At the prototyping stage, you can test the logic of the application without waiting for development to start. Those changes require a serious reworking of the logic and design are made in a few minutes.
At the prototyping stage you will already see that the initial plan needs to be refined or changed. Or maybe you'll realize that the app will be too expensive, hard to implement, or not profitable at all. Seeing this without even starting development is a huge plus of prototypes.
A prototype is convenient to use when it is necessary to coordinate an idea, to correct it painlessly or to demonstrate how good it is. This fact comes in handy when working with investors, managers, customers and executors, because seeing it once is much better than hearing or even reading it several times.
Let’s sum it up. A prototype is not the final version of your product. It cannot replace a full-fledged technical specification which describes the functional part of the application in detail. But it will definitely reduce the amount of work and give you a complete picture of how the application will look and work in the end. It will also save you time and money.