Importance of Software Prototyping

Why do you need application prototyping?

Olga BińczakSep 14, 2021

Why do you need application prototyping?

Do you happen to have a lot of ideas and requirements when it comes to the project? If so, this post is just for you! We will tell you a bit about what application prototyping is. Prototype is a word that most people associate with tangible products, not necessarily with mobile or web applications. However, in the IT industry - especially in modern software houses - the prototype is very often used in the software development process. Increasingly, it is also a key element in the contracting process.

What is a software prototype?

Application prototyping can be defined as a visual presentation of functionality. The prototype combined with a written functional specification (e.g. acceptance criteria and Definition of Done) allows both the client and the development team to be sure that the end product is exactly what the client expects and that ongoing work is going in the right direction.

Why Use Application Prototyping?

A significant part of the ordering parties want their new applications to be written and implemented as soon as possible. During the requirements definition phase, however, there is a risk of focusing on core functionalities, so that the rest of the requirements are often overlooked. This approach means that any logical gaps or small missing functions that turn out to be important or even necessary will not be detected until user tests. It may turn out that only at this final stage the customer will find that the application needs improvement. When this is the case, it can be very costly to go back and fix the problems associated with adding new features - both time and money.

This is the main reason why a prototype is valuable to the entire software development process. First of all, it helps to prevent potential loopholes, the so-called black holes and patch them as part of the main application development process. It also gives the possibility of a fuller insight into the final appearance of the solution.

Prototyping the application with a functional model

If we work with the application prototype, both the client and the developer will be able to clearly see if and what connections exist between the functionalities and how to organize them so that the operation is consistent. Thanks to this, there are no understatements and we minimize the risk of the situation: "I thought it would work differently"

There are usually three key stages or steps that we take when starting work on a prototype of an application:

  • Mapping the customer's requirements. The whole process begins with working with visions that are usually only in the mind of the client. At this stage, the Requirements Analyst spends a lot of time with the client, recording all the necessary information to avoid gaps in functionality. It's important to capture the finest details as possible and then determine what is important and to what extent. It is also a good opportunity for the client if he wants to share his ideas.

  • Prototyping. Using modern tools (e.g. Adobe XD) it will be possible to create a visual and functional model of the new application. We will be able to see the interface and functions in real interaction. The prototype also includes action flow diagrams so as to accurately plan the potential user's mobility around the new solution.

  • Specification. This step is basically optional. A common situation is where the specification goes beyond the actual prototype and provides an extensive functional specification. It is a kind of application plan, i.e. it provides documentation of what will be exactly delivered after development is completed. However, it should be noted that adding a third step - that is, specifications - to a prototype will often play an important role in the design. It helps to transfer knowledge and visions from the minds of the development team and the client to documentation that each party will have access to. Additionally, if a new application requires the creation of a user manual, the already existing specification will provide an excellent basis for this.

Application prototyping as a key to quality

The prototype and specification of requirements are like a good marriage - they complement each other. Their combination gives us the best chance to plan, describe and design the final product. It is worth it that the specification and the prototype coexist. As a result, everyone knows exactly what has been approved and what the direction of software development is

We - as a software house - know that the lines of code work as they should, and you - as a customer - have a sense of certainty that the final application will be exactly what you expect. Contact us and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have!