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Most business owners looking to build a stunning mobile app are often clueless about the app design prototyping stage. They need to put their best foot forward, particularly in the beginning. How do they do that without knowing the what, why, when, how, and the advantages of prototype development? It is vital information to help them bring their mobile ideas to life easily and quickly because today, most commercial success depends on the user experience.
It is said that every dollar invested in UX results in a return of $100 (that is an ROI of 9,900%). Mobile apps play a significant role in this, and it would not be wrong to say that mobile apps start and end with users only. User experience decides whether your mobile app will succeed or experience failure.
Mobile apps have become an essential need for people and businesses globally. Literally, no one can live without mobile apps in this tech-savvy world. In fact, 70% of the time spent on digital media is completed in an app, accounting for 89% of total mobile minutes.
Ask any skilled and experienced prototype development company, and it will say that mobile app success is directly proportional to enhanced user experience. The superior the user experience, the better.
To refine user experience and make it better than ever before, many businesses emphasize the relevance and fundamentals of mobile app UX design, thus strengthening mobile prototypes. Consequently, you may be looking for creative and innovative prototype design services that can stay updated with the latest mobile app design trends and help organizations build compelling UX.
In short, you need to get into the nitty-gritty of mobile app UX/UI design and app prototyping.
What Is App Prototyping?
In simpler terms, a mobile application prototype is a framework that manifests the mobile app’s functioning. It is a detailed sketch of the app on a piece of paper, underlining the final app model, which is what we call a mobile prototype. Prototyping for mobile apps is one of the most powerful tools in any UX designer’s kit.
It is a valuable exercise included in mobile app design services, resulting in visualization of how the app will function by exhibiting user flows and representing the well-crafted design and layout. There are generally three types of app prototypes — paper prototypes, high-fidelity (Hi-fi) prototypes, and low-fidelity (Lo-fi) prototypes.
The Importance of Prototyping in Mobile App Development
Prototyping for mobile apps helps you identify and formulate the main routes of the design and save time. Mainly, app design prototyping alleviates iterations. If you get your prototyping done right, you can get everyone to agree on how the mobile app will function at a basic level.
Afterward, you can focus on honing the design aspects with colors, aesthetics, and other essential features without having to go back and change the basic, functional part of the app. Besides, mobile app prototyping avoids expensive reworks, accelerates development and time-to-market, avoids failures, improves product adoption and user engagement, demonstrates functionality, and, most importantly, boosts collaboration.
It should be clear by now that the prototyping stage is one of the most important ones to help you craft compelling mobile app UX/UI. So start it right away!
When Should You Emphasize App Prototyping?
A mobile app prototype is an introductory version of your app concepts or ideas. Businesses and prototype development firms usually draw on these as a means of establishing real and authentic versions of the app. Doing this is essential before investing time, effort, and money in building it.
The question arises — when should you emphasize prototyping mobile apps?
There is a straightforward answer to this – because you want to structure the app properly and keep it organized. This process also helps get rid of unnecessary changes in the core functionality. Your testers can test for bugs and responsiveness at the earliest to fix them up, save money, and stand out among others. All these reasons should be sufficient to know why building a prototype of mobile application is a good idea.
How to Prototype a Mobile App in 12 Easy Steps
What is the first step toward turning a great idea into a successful app? An ideal UX/UI app design process, including prototyping (it is a must). Prototyping is a crucial step in mobile app development services as well. It helps get a thorough idea about the final app and make changes if it requires any modification. This is the reason organizations and app engineers often review the prototypes before beginning the app development.
The phase of prototyping a mobile app lays the foundation for app development success. Each step in the prototyping process is intricate, which is why the process needs to be understood properly before we start making one.
Below is a look at the ins and outs of this process. Make sure you are aware of the steps, especially if you are new to it, if you want to leave a lasting impression and make prototype app successful:
Determine the App Goals
This is the first step in any type of prototype development – to define the purpose. In this step, we derive clear objectives and map out features to meet the purpose behind building the app. List the issues it is addressing and through what features, as well as the target audience.
Understand the User Pain Points
You need to be empathetic if you want to create a successful prototype, something that finds and addresses user pain points. What are the things your customers are frustrated about that you can solve through your application? Give them the answer to the challenges they are facing on the technological side with your prototype. It is even better if you can exceed their expectations by anticipating them in it.
Analyze Your Competitors
It is just as important to know what rival businesses are bringing to their customers. You can analyze your competitors to get the guidance you need on doing better than them. The more you know, the easier it will also become for you to try new things and gauge user responses. A thorough analysis will help you answer questions like what your competition is doing well and where they might be lacking. Collect these details to improve the strategy you created in the earlier steps. It will help your business stand out in the best ways.
Accentuate Functionalities and Features Required
The next step is about focusing on the functionalities and features your app will need to succeed. Locate those elements and make a plan to bring them out in your blueprint. This is how you can decide the essence of the prototype.
Build a Strong User Persona
Statistics are not enough when you are trying to understand the target audience and create a user persona to prototype of an app for. Ask the right questions to really comprehend the demographics, like who is your user? What are their habits? When you can see the human behind the user, that is when you move closer to building the right prototype that resonates with them.
Create Sketches for the Primary Screens
After creating a clear blueprint, we can start visualizing and sketching the initial screens of the app. In this sketching phase, the design team lives through the user journey to know what it should be and what it actually would feel like to use the app. It is up to them to decide what the users will see first and how things will proceed from the starting screen. In short, this is where all the abstract ideas will be brought into the product design prototype.
Planning and Wireframing Mobile App Design
This is where the sketched designs are turned into wireframes, moving toward a tangible structure. Designers and strategists work together to decide what goes where in this step, setting the stage for the next ones.
Now Convert Your Wireframes into a Prototype
This is the step where we begin processing the app from the wireframes finalized above. No more static images – now the developers build app prototypes with the interactive screens as planned. They execute the ideas into reality that users can tap into.
Create App Prototype
Users want interaction in apps – they do not really pay attention to details, such as whether the app they are using is a prototype for app or the main thing. The devil is in the details, but that is important for the business owner (you) and the development team to think about. Users will want the proper experience of how the app works. Working on user interaction is a must in this case, and developers work on app responses to make the user experience effortless.
Test and Polish
Now, we test what has been developed so far to find out what works well and what needs to be changed. This is done with potential users for valuable feedback on everything that may need improvement. The results from testing will be applied to the prototype to make it ready for the final development.
Turn the Final Prototype into Final Designs
By this step, the development and testing teams have built and tested the prototype multiple times. It is time they finalize the designs based on the outcome. The teams translate the prototype into a polished, aesthetically pleasing interface.
Share Your Digital Prototype
This is the last step that involves sharing the final digital prototype with stakeholders. You must maintain transparent communication to ensure everyone is on the same page. This is where you will also decide the features to add to the final product and see how they strike the user pain points discussed in the earlier stages. This step marks the completion of a meticulous process.
Top 5 Benefits of Prototyping for Mobile Apps
Prototyping an app is common among businesses because of the following advantages.
- Helps Explore Innovative Ideas and Identify Improvements – Testing by the user, app prototyping opens up opportunities for the exploration of new ideas and helps you identify the app improvements early on in the development process before the app is finalized. Prototypes enable more accurate study and evaluation of the final deliverable.
- Gives More Clarity – Prototyping ensures clarity and helps you understand what and how you will build the app. Understanding the intended functionality, user flow, and even look and feel is notably hard to achieve without a visual aid. That is where app prototyping comes in.
- Helps Validate User Experience (UX) – Running a prototype through a user test is one of the most effective ways to validate usability and user experience. Retaining users by giving constant value is a critical goal of UX design. That said, prototype development services will test the app’s potential for engagement, persistence, and lifetime value.
- Saves Money (Cost-Efficient) – A mobile app prototype helps you save lots of money in the long run. It solves the problems at the beginning of the process, which is less expensive comparatively. The end result will be inexpensive if you have to go through even a single unexpected round of changes in development.
- Fixes Problems at Early Stages – Sometimes, when we turn our ideas, thoughts, and learning directly into apps, we may not be able to execute them, or they may not be of enough value. That is why we need to prototype our app so that we can reap the maximum benefits of mobile app UX/UI design. App prototyping helps us identify the issues at earlier stages to fix them before the final development.
Mobile App Prototyping: The Takeaway
The phase of prototyping an app lays the foundation for app development success. Each step in the prototyping process is intricate, which is why the process needs to be understood properly before we start making one.
Given above is a look at the ins and outs of this process. Make sure you are aware of the steps, especially if you are new to it.
The more you pay attention to the prototype, the better it gets. As a result, you get to develop a highly appealing mobile app that your users find irresistible. All in all, app prototyping is one of the best strategies for developing successful apps.
Hope this post helped you understand everything from what, why, when, and how you benefit when you develop prototypes first. Now it is time to put all the learnings into action, craft a stunning app, and stay ahead of the pack.