In the age of rapid development, prototyping has become very important. If you are a developer and is just starting, you should bring prototyping in your workflow.
So, what exactly is a prototype?
A prototype is an early model that offers basic functionalities and reflects an idea or a process. It is actively used to reaffirm an idea, understand progress or approve ideas from the client. Prototyping is a crucial step in building large projects and ensure that you don’t waste your time, effort and skill on doing something that won’t work or is not required.
Prototyping is also very useful in getting feedback and then using the same feedback to improve the project. In today’s article, we will go through a small guide on how to get started with prototyping. The guide is aimed towards developers who want to improve the application development process.
There are many models in software development. The first model that defined software development was the Waterfall model. It was limited in many ways where each step needs to be completed before moving to the next step. This lead to problems considering that requirements cannot be changed. Also, issues that are not rectified caused problems later in the waterfall development model.
Prototyping model, on the other hand, is more flexible, and facilitate change and innovation without costing too much.
Converting your idea into a product using prototyping
We have list the steps that will be required for you to launch your product using prototyping.
- Keep it simple: Prototyping is all about simplicity. There is no need to make things complex. This way you will be able to convince others about your prototype and get the necessary feedback on it as well. Also, you should not strive for perfection as prototyping is all about trying out new ideas and not perfecting them.
- Know your options: Prototyping requires different tools and execution paths. As a developer, you should know what you can do and choose the path/options that are ideal for you.
To get a grasp, we can check out any of the popular blogging guides. They emphasize on getting your blog up and ready with basic features and functionality. Once done, the website owner can iterate on it and make it more functional in the upcoming days. Most of the owners running a website also employ the strategy and build their website from a solid base.
Steps to Get Started With Prototyping
Now that we got a good understanding of what prototyping is, it's time for us to list steps that can help you build a prototype. It is common for developers or clients to come up with new ideas now and then. Prototyping enables to experiment and validate ideas.
For creating a successful prototype, you need to follow the below-mentioned steps.
Step 1: Start with paper design
It is common for developers to start with product development without doing a paper design. Paper design is one of the important steps of prototyping as it lets you visualize and understand your design better than ever. It also helps you with your prototyping journey as you can refer to it. It will also help you avoid common pitfalls. This gives you a foundation for hardware and software work. It also enables you to get early feedback.
Step 2: Define the main goal
The first step is to define your main goals. This step requires defining your requirements as well. The best way to approach it is to sit with your team and discuss it in detail. You should also make a proper list of user requirement. To ensure that you get your goals right, you should do as much research as possible.
Step 3: Get feedback
The next step is to get feedback from stakeholders, partners or peers who can help you further refine your design or your goals. This is an important step before creating a prototype.
Step 4: Abstract components
Abstraction can help you write better software without going too deep into each component or functionality. It also gives you the ability to write the most basic features of your application which in return helps you code your prototype. Remember when we mentioned that a prototype should be the bare minimum and this is where abstraction comes in. The best approach is to identify the objects by removing the verbs and nouns.
Step 5: Create flowcharts
Now, you need to create flowcharts. You can do it by using tools such as LabView to make it easy to create flowcharts.
Step 6: User interface prototyping
User interface prototyping is the first step of transforming your paper design into software. Prototyping UI also let you understand your paper design making it. It is the first prototype which you can showcase to investors and customers. You can mimic a few features to make it look functional.
Step 7: Virtual prototyping
If you are creating a hardware solution, you might want to build a virtual prototype that will showcase the different aspects of the hardware. Many tools can let you do so.
Step 8: Consultation
The next step involves asking for feedback. This feedback will let you improve your prototype, and finally, you need to present it.
Step 9: Add features
Doing prototyping is a continuous work, and hence you should focus on adding new features to your prototype.
Step 10: Documentation
You should document the prototype creation process so that you can go back and learn why you did it. Also, documentation will help new users to understand the prototype in case of confusion.
This leads us to the end of the prototyping guide. We hope that you learned a lot and will use the knowledge in your next prototyping project. Also, do share what do you think about prototyping in general. Is it a must do step for developers? If so, why? Comment below and let us know.