Major Practices for Effective Mobile App Prototyping

Mobile application prototyping is one of the most essential elements in the design phase of mobile app development. So, for any enterprises to stand out in a saturated market or to increase in the probability of product success, prototyping helps to ensure enterprises to move forward with the developing tested product, which is also proven to provide real user value and exceptional functionality. So, this repetitive process also allows for the testing assumptions and the opportunity to receive user feedback, which can be used for the ideas as well as for the test solution. Therefore, gathering feedback will help you to shape final design as well as it also ensures that you are on the correct track before investing significant time in developing the actual product. 

So, below are the best practices for prototyping to maximize the effectiveness of your prototyping and testing efforts. 

What is Prototype? 

Prototyping is defined as a preliminary model of something from which other forms are developed or copied, and the broad definition implies that anything from a sketch of the product interface to a dynamic interactive model to be categorized as a prototype. So, this will help you to define a product prototype as a working as well as interactive model, so that it can be physically tested by potential users. Nevertheless, prototype also enable you to create a visualization of how your product will function, demonstrate user flow to give an idea of the layout and design, because the main purpose of building the model is to communicate your design or navigation of the app to the stakeholder so the users can allow them to test the assumptions in an attempt to discover errors or bugs early on maximizing the efficiency of the development process. 

Why creating a Prototype is so important: 

Positive user experience plays a significant role in mobile apps, so with 21% of mobile app user abandoning an app right after one use. So, for enterprises those who ensure success, for them prototyping not only helping them to save time but as well as money, it is also helping for providing that whatever the product is created will offer a better user experience than one, that can move from the concept to production without any testing in between. So, testing your concept with a prototype will eventually trigger new ideas and confirm which direction to take when it comes to development. Therefore, it is designed to determine viability but does not represent the final product. However, this also helps to address problems early not to represent the final product, so this allows a room for further evaluation in order to address problem early on during the development process, and it is far less expensive to rectify problems in the beginning stages of a project life cycle than in end as it provides a closer examination and evaluation of the end product. Thus, with the proper prototype, you can attract investors, buy-in, and begin developing your MVP.

Choose your device
Before building a prototype, you also have to decide on the device because different devices have different screen sizes as well as a separate requirement for an app. For instance, you cannot expect the same app design to work or for both android as well as for iPhone, so this is why you need to make sure that you choose your device before building the prototype. So, by doing this, you will get a real-time experience of how your mobile app will going to look and feel on the device, as you cannot expect to get a proper sense of how the app will look on iPhone x when you create or test out the prototype for iPad air.

Keep It Lean
The major purpose of mobile app prototyping is to obtain a greater understanding of user pain points for ensuring that your mobile product will provide an adequate solution. So, it is essential to build an entire product, before creating your prototype define which features or ideas you want to be tested to set the limit for the amount of time you will spend creating the prototype, and then send out your prototype for feedback as soon as possible to continue the process.

Minimize Details
Keeping the first point in mind, then a prototype should be a high level outline of what you visualize your end product will be without getting too granular. So, eliminate the visual elements such as fonts, colors and any visuals which are not essential for the product functionality because a key to implement mobile prototyping best practices is to think in terms of the bare minimum. So, the design details can follow after completing this process, as you are testing ideas, and not determining whether an icon wants to be 10dp to the right. Hence, once the essentials are in place, then the design details can follow.

Prioritize Your Features
When building a mobile application, we all get excited thinking about new features. So, prioritize as well as decide the features which are essential for your mobile app, because these are some features that you should initially include in your prototype. So, start answering a question likes the number one problem my end users are experiencing, and how will’ the functionality of my product will solve those problem? Besides, you can also include a selected number of necessary features in your prototype and how they will help you to ensure for keeping this process as moving along as smoothly as possible. Thus, you have to prioritize and decide which features are essential to your app. So, your best features suit your targets users requirement are not your personal preference.

Pareto’s Rule (80/20 Rule)
Pareto’s rule states that almost about 80 % of the effects come from 20 % of the causes, so it is also known as 80/20 rule. However, common usage of the rule is in the business is context, so executives often pipe, 80% of profits comes from 20% of your customers. Therefore, adapted as one of the mobile prototyping best practices, concept does not differ by much, so 80% of mobile app wonder comes from 20% of its features or 80% of an app’s excellence comes from 20% of its design. Hence, Pareto rule helps you to prioritize as well as to optimize to serve as a significant reminder for why you should always break it down to the essential while prototyping.

Use Real Content
Using Placeholder copy such as “Lorem ipsum” in your prototyping will not only help you to give those testing your products an adequate representation for how your content will display on their device. Besides, it also provides an understanding of what the mobile app does and its purpose. However, using a real content in your prototype will help to give your stakeholders those testing the product a batter idea of how the app should function.

Map Out User Flows
Build your mobile product with keeping the users in mind, so mapping out the user’s journey will help you to get the look at the product from the user perspective. So, right from starting with opening an app to reaching its end goal such as making a purchase gives an insight of how you can design the app in such a way that it will be convenient for users. In addition, defining a user flow as well as addressing the users actions need to take in such a way, so that it will complete the end goal, as well as it also assure that you don’t miss anything while keeping user satisfaction in mind because creating or mapping out user journey is one of the most important mobile prototyping practices to keep in mind based on who your users are. Nevertheless, picture the possible scenarios which might go through by using your mobile app. Hence, map out the various flows and pay attention to where friction may arise.

Limit Single Function
Mobile apps are not a website, so you cannot put a bunch of content on it to expect the user for finding the action button. As general nature of mobile apps is a lot simpler, so the purpose is singular. Additionally, one of the recommended mobile app prototyping is the best practices to limit a single function for each view.

Test on multiple devices
Mobile devices are not just containers, which can display or execute mobile app because designing for mobile is designing for ergonomics. So, this means that a one size fits all approach for your app may not work. Thus, testing on multiple devices will help you to ensure you accurately evaluate how your mobile application will display and how users will interact with your content across various devices. So, this will help you to identify usability issues as well as device constraints.

Prototypes mainly built to test ideas or for the validation and invalidation, based on the outcomes that prototype can be updated or retested. So, receiving feedback on an iteration of your prototype provides a valuable communication channel to identify errors as well as opportunities for improvement, because at times' the negative feedback you receive may have nothing to do with' what you are testing. So, in this case evaluate the criticism to see if it truly reflects the potential problem for users or not. However, most of the people know how to define prototype, but only a few truly understand what it requires. So, they expect to see a rather complete and functional mobile app, not just a bare-bones version. However, to avoid this always be clear about what they have to test and explain the purpose of the prototype and be thorough to let them know that eventually, a prototype will evolve.

So, for wrapping up,’ prototyping is an integral part of the design process, so by allowing mobile application development teams to validate assumptions surrounding product functions and user needs, teams are there to make changes to an original concept before starting the production. However, by following these prototyping best practices will help you to set the path for creating an amazing mobile app, so it is just as useful to choose the right prototyping tool for your needs, and by utilizing above given practices will not only help you for saving your time or money, but it will also help you to become one step closer for realizing your ideas in a form of a serviceable and user-friendly design.