8 Reasons Why You Should Be Prototyping

Hi there! Here’s a Friday blog post that I put together, you know, to clear up some thoughts about prototyping and what it means to software development. I came up with 8 reasons why prototyping helps. Seven reasons are mine and one it’s your to add. :-) So, here they are!

1. We speak different languages

We do. And not different in the same sense as English and Japanese, for instance, are different. Even when speaking the same language there are times we don’t understand each other properly for the simple reason that we see different meanings for the same words. And that basically happens because…

2. We have different backgrounds

From the early days of our preparatory school through everything that formed us professionally, we are essentially different. We see things differently and, besides being the most wonderful thing in the world (our uniqueness, I mean), this may sometime lead to communication difficulties that need to be addressed somehow.

3. We are (mostly) visual beings

Most of our understanding about the surrounding environment comes through the visual senses. Why I think that is so it’s because there are so many shapes, colors and combination of them, and their number is overwhelming comparing to the amount of words & concepts we use to denote them. And besides that, it’s easier to spot a shape than to read and comprehend its literal description. It’s far easier to take that shape and visually integrate it into a larger picture than it is to do the same thing using only your imagination.

4. It’s faster & cheaper

To be more specific now, prototyping is by definition a very early draft version or a simulation of a yet to be built product. It only make senses to invest time and resources in prototyping only when it’s cheaper and faster than building the real product. That’s why, most of the time, prototyping is done in a different technology than the one used for the real product. Which leads us the the next point.

5. It can be done by non-developers

When it comes to User Interfaces prototyping, the ones that know best how the UI should be are not necessarily the most technically skilled persons in the team. It’s just much easier for UX/UI designers or even project managers to simulate software in a non-programming environment for the sake of prototyping.

6. Allows more iterations in a shorter period of time

When things come together faster, it’s much more easier for everyone to meet, share ideas and iterate over. This way it will be much more improbable that requirements will significantly change during development because of lack of communication or mutual understanding.

7. It’s better for usability testing than static wireframes & mock-ups

While simple static images linked together can help, it’s far more realistic to prototype using assets that closely resemble the experience users will have when facing the real product. From simple text input boxes to drop-down menus or advanced transitions & effects, the closer you are to that experience, the accurate your test result will be.

8. What’s yours take?

There is, most certainly, a lot more to say about the advantages of prototyping. Let me know what you think about the above points and if you have something to add. I’d be so happy to learn from your experience during prototyping in early stages project development.