The mobile app development isn’t just restricted to coding practices and testing exercises. You also have to learn how to prototype a mobile app if you are serious about your successful app launching. It also helps you to gain an upper hand advantage over the competitors and certainly, you can pitch with a better app when targeting the potential customers.
However, before you learn the steps leading to a successful mobile app prototyping, let’s have a quick view of what a mobile app prototype is and why it is considered to an essential aspect or part of the app development process.
Defining a Mobile App Prototype
Well, the prototype is said to be a version of the mobile application, which helps the developer in viewing and testing the key functions. As such, it involves the as least cost and time possible.
In fact, the mobile app prototype is being compared with the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) due to the similarity of concept. But the fact is that are invariably different. The iOS app developers should note that unlike the MVP they won’t be able to conduct an open prototype test due to the regulations laid down by Apple, which says that you have to get your app reviewed and approved before publication.
So, if you want to test your prototype, the best possible way is to opt for a small sample size. You can conduct the user experience testing by creating small groups of potential users and getting their feedback.
Why is Mobile App Prototype Important?
When you are prototyping a mobile app, you are actually working on the interactive model and also showing the design as well as navigation process to brings ideas into life. However, if we talk about the benefits of app prototyping:
- It helps in validation of ideas thereby helping to explore new ideas and designing methods. It is during the testing process that one comes to know which features and functionalities needs an improvement. Prototype helps to bring changes in the project.
- The mobile prototyping offers you the scope of involving your client and stakeholder in the development process. This indeed allows the developers to take the approval from the clients before moving on to the next stage.
- The mobile app prototype offers a model or demonstration of how the final product would look like. So, the client who is investing in the project is certain that he is making the right decision once he approves the prototype.
- Mobile app prototype can also be used to know if there is a demand of a particular app in the market. You just have to run prototype through a user test.
Following are the important steps that will help you for creating a successful mobile app prototype:
1. Identifying the App and Understanding Problem
First things first, you have to define your app and specifically understand the problem that it will be solving. In addition, you also have to know who your potential customers are and mobile app prototyping could prove handy. For instance, if you are building a grocery app, where people can directly buy the products, it would be a B2C app.
However, when you are opting for the mobile app prototype, you have to consider the unique selling point. So, you have to think if your app has solved the problem or not. Talking about the USP of the given example, the app eliminates the hassles of customers as they don’t have to visit the grocery shop and they can shop everything at one place saving a lot of time and money.
2. Research to know if Idea is Viable
If you want to build a mobile prototype, it is quite essential to get familiar whether the app idea is viable or not. This calls for researching the mobile market. The research will help you to understand the needs of target audience, thereby reducing the risks related to designs and development.
You can also conduct a reliable survey to avail better results where you can get valuable information. This assists in taking easier and apt decisions.
3. What Features and Functionalities to Implement
One of the important steps of mobile app prototyping is to list the various features and functionalities that you want to implement in your app. In fact, you can choose the list of the features even before you have begun to develop the app.
Once you have done that you can keep those in the order of preference. You can start by incorporating a few and simple features in the beginning, which are necessary to conduct the test and once your app gains the spotlight, you can increase it depending on user demand.
Add the most important features during the initiation and after the completion of prototyping, you can add others as you will get a much better idea of your app.
4. Initiating the First Sketches of Screen
Next step while developing the mobile app prototype is focusing on the user experience. So, you have to commence with the creation of a few rough or primary sketches of the screen.
You can actually categorize the screen functionalities into three main divisions; namely, the dashboard, the profile and the matches. After the sketches of the screen are prepared, you can proceed with the final creation of screens.
5. Proceed with the Wireframe
Once you have your primary screens ready, it’s time to divert the attention towards app wireframing. It is often regarded as the basic structure of any mobile app. This is one area where you can use the various types of prototyping tools and functional wireframes available to craft your ideas into reality. A few examples of these include Xcode or JustMind etc.
A wireframe can be defined as a bare skeleton or low-fidelity product that mainly comprises of boxes, lines or descriptions at times. It is through wireframing an app that a developer can determine if he is going in the right direction of app development. What you can do is share the wireframe with a small group of users asking them to send their feedback on the app.
In order to make your wireframe more authentic, you can also use mobile templates and UI stencil. The wireframe provides a clearer picture of the app’s functionality during the mobile app prototype.
6. Test the Mobile App Prototype
You can start with the testing of mobile app prototype once you are fully satisfied with the wireframing. This is one of the most important parts in prototyping the mobile app that has to be done very carefully.
Thus, one of the recommended ways for testing the prototype is choosing the usability test. As the name suggests, it is one test which tells you how useful your app is. However, don’t confuse it with the user like or dislike of the app. It has nothing to do with it.
The usability test provides you vital information on how the users operate an app and make use of different functions and features. You have to keep on iterate the testing unless and until the functionality gains perfection.
7. Turning Wireframes into Designs
Once the testing of mobile app prototyping is complete, you can now transform the wireframes into final designs. This is where the role of the app designers becomes predominant.
Some of the designers use the sketch to develop the app designs while other may use illustrator. You need to keep interacting with these professionals and check their work. On the completion of final designs, you can upload the prototype to get the real picture.
Well, we can say that prototyping a mobile app isn’t an easy job considering the fact that the journey goes through a number of steps. It is a time consuming process and so one needs to have patience until you get the final product in the end.
Taking the views and feedback from clients and selected users is very crucial as they would point out the areas, which need improvement. However, the mobile app prototype is a blueprint of the app that lays a strong foundation for building a superior app.