An abstraction of a solution with the aim of understanding the problem. A prototype does not have all the qualities of the final product but everything from which one can learn. A prototype helps you learn in between the lines taking you from the design problem to the design solution.
Prototyping is process that is mostly incorporated with the design phase. It is important as the client can play with their own ideas and provide feedback that shapes the design before the development begins. Prototypes saves development time so that you can create products that offer maximum value.
Prototype is a concept that ranges from sketches to highly interactive computer models. Any prototype that you make comes from the products natural persona. This persona is the deciding factor on how the app would eventually look and what would be the next step. Prototypes helps you see through the whole process. Prototypes combine all features, elements, ideas, resources and place them together as one.
Four steps that help you create a prototype:
Before commencing, document the app development plan in a sequence or process that relates to you. Once you have the document ready, iterate it and make changes accordingly. As you go for the first draft, consider making it more intuitive and add comments where necessary, so that you do not miss any detail from the document.
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Follow a format for the document and stick to it. Divide each section into heading and subheadings. Highlight each heading and put the comments in a box to segregate them. Divide the screens, features and services into headings and subheadings.
On completing the document, you have accomplished an important milestone of putting all your ideas in one place. Now that all your ideas are on the paper, you are ready to give it a more real touch by designing wireframes. Wireframes are rough sketches and line drawings that provide structure to your idea. This is generally performed on a large sheet or a board. Each section from the document is picked and sketched in the form of actual app screens represented on the sheet/board.
Building app blueprints:
Sketching app screens on paper/board provides a flow with a more authentic shape. You can move ahead and give it a tidier, cleaner appearance that focuses more on the details. Pay attention to the comments. You can rearrange and optimize the features that are already there. Add more elements and details to it. This step is basically about creating intuitive wireframe and adding more authentic elements to make it more real.
Creating the final mockups:
Now that everything is in place and solves the purpose of the app development. You are a few steps away from developing a great app. In this step, you are taking your app idea to the final stage of developing the prototype. This will give a much better look and feel of the app. The final prototype will build the foundation of how your app will look, communicate with users and deliver. The final step can be built on simulations and then go through testing to ensure that the prototypes reaches all levels including the beta testing stage.
On completing these steps, you have successfully made your final prototype that is ready for feedback from the client. These steps will bring you closer to your idea. As you move forward, you will come closer to the desired product.