The Power of the Prototype
Design has the power to captivate clients and make them fall in love with their product. The only downside is that it's usually the last thing they see - or at least that's how it used to be.
Traditionally, the design process consisted of four parts: Discovery > Ideas > Wireframing > UI Design. In recent years we've brought a fifth element to the party, and wow, what a difference it makes. This additional stage sits between wireframing and UI design and is arguably the most important in the process. Let’s talk about prototyping.
Firstly, what is it? Prototyping is the stage of the process in which a functional mock-up is created. It creates a chance for the client to preview, visualise and, most importantly, test. Test with the internal teams who had put the brief in, test with the proposed users and test with potential stakeholders (including investors). From a design point of view, prototypes make a huge difference. The feedback gained on a prototype will actively guide the final stage of the design process and that allows for unexpected turns too.
Why do we love prototyping? We introduced prototyping as an option some time ago, but these days we rarely complete a project without it. By having an interactive prototype within client meetings, we’ve been able to reach new levels of collaboration. No longer are we sat behind a desk pitching our design concepts to our clients. Our meetings now take the shape of engaging workshops. Workshops where Product Managers, Tech Leads, CEOs, Sales and Marketing (the list goes on), can touch, play and feel their product in their hand before the final delivery.
You may think that increasing the review stages and communication throughout the project has increased the length of the project but you couldn’t be more wrong! In fact, a study by IBM revealed that software prototyping can reduce production time by up to 50%!
Having a product our clients and team can touch and operate provides a huge amount of clarity; less questions are asked and explanations are much easier (on both sides). We’ve seen a huge impact on stakeholder and investor sign-off too.
Ultimately, prototyping has allowed for a larger proportion of our clients’ budgets to be allocated to the other stages of the process and moves it forward at a faster rate.
From an internal perspective, adding prototyping has enhanced our processes too. Our iterative design process continues to evolve over the project. The entire project team are working simultaneously with complete understanding of the requirements across the board. The clarity this process brings delivers confidence for everyone involved. It’s truly game changing.
We have some hugely exciting projects being released in the very near future that have followed our new 5 stage design process. Prototyping and iterative design have both played key roles in these projects, from ideas right through to development. We’re excited to share the details with you soon. Watch this space!