Creating a prototype for a website or application is the perfect way to demonstrate how effective the user experience will be. The prototype defines the bulk of the website; its content, structure and general layout and is the most cost effective way to get the right results.
Why use a prototype?
Traditionally, in the early stages of any project, a full specifications document would be created that outlined the scope of the website and would describe (in words) the proposed user journeys, functionality and content. However it’s hard to envisage a full website or application by reading a 30-page document that contains no (or very little) imagery and even harder to tweak, improve and refine. Stakeholders can get confused over which version they should be referring too, and asking them to ‘imagine’ the final product is a tall order.
A prototype does away with a functional specifications document and does a far better job of keeping focus on the user and business goals.
Prototypes and responsive design
With the introduction of responsive design the prototype has become even more influential in planning, scoping and testing the effectiveness of a product. By prototyping the various breakpoints (screen sizes) we are able to easily see how a single website will perform on desktop, tablet and smartphone devices. Moreover, many decisions can be finalised during this phase avoiding costly oversights once a project has entered into the design and development stages.
What are the benefits of using a prototype?
There are many benefits to creating a prototype of your website or application because:
- Having something tangible that you can actually experience is far better than trying to imagine how a website might function and respond
- It’s an effective way to explore how effective the user journey is for your different audiences
- Creating a blueprint to outline your core requirements means everyone in the process will always focussed on the same goals
- Making changes and refining a prototype is much more cost effective than making changes during the design and/or development stages
- Future functionality can be tested on the (already existing) prototype before they are approved for design and/or development