Imagine building a house without a structured schema or a visual model. Impossible, isn’t it? Similar is the case with software development. You cannot just jump right into building software without defining requirements or testing the idea. Otherwise, you might waste your time, money, and effort as the product will need a lot of revisions. Chances are it might not even see the light of the day.
That is why it is crucial to start your project with rapid prototyping. To help you understand what you might miss out on without it, we have covered this blog. Here, we will discuss rapid prototyping, its benefits, and how to build a rapid prototype of a product. Let’s begin.
What is Rapid Prototyping?
Rapid prototyping is the process of quickly building a full-scale prototype of a product. It is widely used in software development to create a visual and functional demonstration of an app concept. The goal is to test an idea before development. Even start-up owners often use rapid prototyping to bring their idea to life through a graphic representation.
As compared to other prototyping approaches like software and hand-coded prototyping, rapid prototyping favors speed. It focuses on how time-sensitive a brand can be. Keeping today’s cut-throat competition and the need for fast iteration in mind, rapid prototyping can be an efficient prototyping approach.
Benefits of Rapid Prototyping
- Idea validation in early stages.
- Clear project requirements to minimize potential risks and required changes in later stages.
- It is easy to know the needs and preferences of your users so that you can tailor your products as per their needs right from the early stage.
- Testing out and fine-tuning the UI & UX is easy in rapid prototyping.
- Rapid prototyping can reduce the development time and budget through rapid prototyping.
- You can easily pitch your idea to investors and seek funding with the help of a rapid prototype.
Difference between High-fidelity and Low-fidelity Prototypes
Prototypes can be divided into two types based on their level of detail: Low-fidelity prototypes and high-fidelity prototypes.
Low-fidelity prototypes are the less elaborated versions of an app concept. The idea behind them is to simply visualize the concept and collect early feedback on it. Low-fidelity prototypes focus on representing the functionality rather than the UI. That is why they look nothing like an actual app but a rough layout of an app concept.
Benefits of low-fidelity prototypes
- They are faster, cheaper, and easier to make.
- Low-fidelity prototypes can clarify a product’s functionality in a simple and collaborative way.
Drawbacks of low-fidelity prototypes
- They give a little insight into the look and feel of the intended product.
- Low-fidelity prototypes are too rough to be tested with a broad audience.
High-fidelity prototypes are more detailed and interactive. All the elements are so well-defined that they are close to the ideal product in terms of look and feel.
Benefits of high-fidelity Prototypes
- High-fidelity prototypes offer unlimited opportunities to test the idea as well as the user flow and design.
- Collecting meaningful feedback from testers is easy with high-fidelity prototypes.
- High-fidelity prototypes can serve as a powerful part of an investor pitch deck.
Drawbacks of high-fidelity Prototypes
High-fidelity prototypes require certain effort and skills to be created. Hence, they cost more. But given the compelling set of advantages they offer; high-fidelity prototypes are a worthy investment.
Note: Both low-fidelity and high-fidelity prototyping cover the important aspects of the prototyping process and offer clear value. Hence, you should use them in combination as consecutive stages of a single process. First, use low-fidelity prototyping to draft the basic functionality and then visualize and test your app concept with a high-fidelity prototype.
When Should You Build a Hi-fidelity Prototype?
While the low-fidelity prototyping should be done in the beginning, this is when you should build a hi-fidelity prototype:
- After finalizing the functionality and specification of a product with low-fidelity prototyping.
- Once you have the product designs ready.
- After drafting the UX of your app concept (you are aware of the navigation, transitions, and user flow).
- If you need quick feedback on the UI of your product.
- When you want to test the usability and the users’ reaction to your product.
- If you want to pitch your idea to investors.
Note: Many start-up owners start building a prototype right after the specifications and the design which leads to further complications. We would recommend you not follow this approach. Making changes once the app has been coded is much difficult than the prototype.
5 Steps to Building a Rapid Prototype
1. Requirement Analysts & Functional Specifications Development
Requirement analysis is the first step to building a rapid prototype in which we work closely with your team to gather your requirements. Then, based on the collected data, we develop the functional specifications for your app concept. It helps us in defining the process and scope of your idea.
2. Full UX/UI Design
The next step is to build a UI/UX design to match the functionality of your app concept. In this stage, we start by creating the basic wireframes and then proceed further with building the visual identity (user interface, color scheme, interface elements, animations, and micro-interactions).
3. Interactive Visual Prototypes
In this step, we build a high-fidelity prototype that mimics the look and feel of the app you are going to create. Since this prototype is completely interactive, you can test it and can even pitch it to investors for funding.
4. Testing and Feedback
In this stage, we receive actionable feedback on the prototype. There are many ways to do this. You can either test it within your organization or organize alpha testing for a small group of users. It will help you find the issues in your product early on and fix them so that you can build a product that meets user expectations.
5. Improve and Repeat
In this step of rapid prototyping, we improve the prototype using the feedback we received in the previous step. This will help you in avoiding costly changes in the development stage.
The entire process usually lasts for 4-5 weeks. However, the time may differ from idea to idea.
How can Softobiz Bring Your Idea to Life with MVP & Prototyping?
MVP & Prototyping is an integral part of the design sprint process we follow at Softobiz. It is a five-day-long process in which test ideas and validate assumptions through design thinking.
Our MVP & prototyping process is backed by market research and user behavior analysis. Through brainstorming, interviews, surveys, and group discussions – we ensure that we have a crystal-clear idea of what you want and build an effective prototype on it. The approach has resulted in saving a lot of time and costs by testing their idea early on.
Are you also looking forward to building an effective prototype to test your idea? We can help. Learn about our MVP & Prototyping expertise in detail.