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What is software prototyping?

Prototyping is an important part of software development. The creation of an entirely new and fully functional app, site, platform, server, Saas, or software is not an easy process. It is a big task and one that requires care and complexity at each stage. 

Often, to make this task achievable for both the development team and client, software prototyping is used. This is a trial-run type of approach that allows the prototype to test the waters for the work to come. Doing so can be hugely beneficial in the process of software development and it is something we very much recommend as a software development company.

At 6B, we believe in making these concepts of software development available and accessible for as many people as possible. Therefore, we have developed (get it?) this blog to help you understand more about prototyping and why we do it. Hopefully, by the end of the blog, you will have some brand new information to take with you and use however you please. 

We will begin with an easy definition of what software prototyping is.

What is a prototype?

A prototype is an infant version of a to-be-built end product. In development teams, prototypes are often created and launched before the actual end product is created. They do so in order to gain valuable feedback, test the feasibility of particular software, and smooth out any kinks before the final product is launched. 

Prototyping is common in many industries and particularly so in software development. Software prototypes will often look similar to the desired end product but will have limited functionality compared to what the software will have later on down the line. Often, these prototypes are delivered to sample groups of users to test and gather feedback. 

There are two separate models within prototyping: the throwaway model and the evolutionary model. In the throwaway model, the prototype is created, used for learning and feedback, and then disregarded as a final product starts to be built from scratch. In the evolutionary model, the prototype is built upon and developed into the final product through improvements and adjustments. 

There are also some different kinds of prototyping we see in the field of software development, let’s talk about that next.

Types of software development prototypes

There are some different types of prototypes (no pun intended) available on the market, including:

InVision and XD prototypes quick working visual prototypes of user journeys and information architectures.

Principle & Origami prototypes developed to mock up micro-interactions, transitions, and animations. The use of principle and origami prototypes can add depth and experience to UI designs.

Progressive tech prototypes proof of concept and prototyping of progressive technologies, such as voice apps and artificial intelligence.

MVP a minimum viable product, ready for deployment to customers, designed only for the core needs of early users.

In-browser prototypes clickable prototypes designed using the same standards as production websites, so you can be assured of the quality. It looks and feels like the real thing, but lacks some functionality.

Whatever prototype you go for will depend on your project’s requirements and specifications. Each one will suit different projects in different ways, however, all prototypes will have the same advantages for a project, which we will talk about in the next section.

What are the benefits of software prototyping?

Developing a prototype has a lot of advantages to offer projects, clients, and development teams. Some of those advantages include: 

  • Testing feasibility
  • Reducing risk
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Early market launch
  • Gathering useful feedback
  • Fixing bugs early
  • Overall increased quality of end-product 

Ultimately, creating and launching a prototype is a great way for developers to make progress quickly and efficiently. It helps teams to gain a lot of insight into something that should and can work, and where things don’t work quite right, this can be sorted out pretty quickly. 

Prototyping makes software development a more manageable process for all sides of the equation and it is very worthwhile for everyone involved. It makes sense that software development companies offer prototyping to their clients so frequently. There is certainly a great benefit to be found here.

What is the process of building a prototype?

The process of building a prototype is relatively simple and it is also very collaborative with the clients in question. As a result, many software development clients enjoy the process of prototyping as they see their idea come to life in its earliest form possible. It can be an exciting process as you see the first iteration of your product hit the market for the first time. 

The prototype process can be split into four simple steps, which are as follows:

  • Identify requirement: At the very first stage of prototyping, a software development company will work hard to identify exact client needs and requirements. Here we will look at what needs to be built, what it should look like, and how we are going to go about doing it. 

 

  • Develop initial prototype: Work tends to begin on developing an initial prototype very quickly. Whether the initial prototype is simply a drawing or whether it is something closer to a working model, something is created that helps shape the prototype and build a more accurate plan.

 

  • Test and review prototype: Testing is a critical aspect of prototyping. This can include internal testing, client feedback, and beta testing from sample users. Some clients may also wish to have their prototype launched as a public trial. In all of these scenarios, what we are looking for is valuable insight and feedback into how the prototype is currently working and how it can be further improved. 

 

  • Revise: Once we have our feedback, we will need to take stock and revise what has gone so far. Depending on the model of prototyping we have gone for, we will either continue to shape the product into the desired end result based on feedback and testing, or we will throw away the initial prototype and start something new from scratch, based on what we have learned. Either way, we will use insight and perspective to make the best decisions going forward. 

All in all, the prototyping process is one of trial and error, testing and feedback, and continuous improvement. It is all about working towards building the best possible end product in a way that is manageable and efficient. 

Finding the right software development company to help you build and launch a prototype can be a big step forward. Whatever your software goal might be, software prototyping will help you get closer to it in an instant.  

Luckily, we have a suggestion for you.

Where to find experts in software prototyping

 

Our rapid prototyping service at 6B allows you to realise a viable, market-ready product or feature at alpha-phase at speed. In fact, our design, development, and deployment of prototypes can be done in a matter of days or weeks.

 

Our rapid prototyping process involves creating assumptions and testable hypotheses which can be validated quickly with customers and iterated upon. After testing, we will collaborate with you to create a POC, prototype, and eventually an MVP.

 

If this is something you are interested in, give us a shout at 6B today and we can talk a little more about your ideal prototype and how we can build it together. 

 

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