- An app prototype is an early version of an application that is designed for any or all of these reasons:
- To demonstrate the basic look, functionality, and flow that the app will have.
- To give developers and stakeholders a visual representation of the app.
- To show how the app is going to function and how users will interact with it.
- To evaluate the user experience and to collect feedback from them.
After collecting feedback from stakeholders including future users, a prototype is sometimes adjusted according to that feedback.
We answer the following questions in this article:
What is the difference between a wireframe and a prototype?
A prototype and a wireframe are both used to show how the user interface will look, function, and flow. They also show how a user will interact with the final product. What is considered a wireframe and a prototype do overlap to some extent, and the names are sometimes used interchangeably.
Prototypes tend to be more detailed and interactive versions of a wireframe. It is a simulation of the product which can be tested and integrated with. A wireframe, on the other hand, shows the basic structure and design of a product, but users cannot really interact with it nor does it have any real functionality.
Prototypes often take the form of mockups or scaled down versions of the app’s interface. A mockup demonstrates the look and feel of the interface and tests the user experience early into the development process. It is common for a few interface mockups of an app to be created. The mockups are then tested and one is chosen based on user feedback.
What are different qualities of prototypes?
App prototypes can vary in detail and quality, but are generally separated into three categories: low fidelity, high fidelity, and interactive. It is worth mentioning, however, that there are no discernable, tangible qualities that completely distinguishes one prototype from another.
Low Fidelity: Low fidelity prototypes are the most basic prototypes and lack detail. They are used during the early stage of development to explore an app’s potential, test ideas, and get feedback from stakeholders. They are also used as a baseline from which to further develop the app. Low Fidelity prototypes can be hand-drawn sketches or created using a cloud-based tool.
High Fidelity: High fidelity prototypes have more detail. They are often composed of static images with a few interactive components such as clickable menus. They are used to simulate the user experience and to identify issues or changes that might be necessary.
Interactive: An interactive prototype is more complex and detailed than the high fidelity. They are often composed with multiple interactive elements including buttons, menus, and forms in addition to dynamic content and animations. They are used to simulate the user’s experience in the most realistic way possible.
What are different ways in which a prototype can be created?
An app prototype can be created with different tools and in different ways:
- No Code/Low Code. The lines between no code and low code have become fuzzy through the years. No code includes hand drawings. It also includes programs that allow you to drag and drop items where you want them. Since there’s a chance you might need to do some very minor tweaks to the code to make it look exactly right, it’s sometimes referred to as low code instead.
Who creates the app prototype?
A prototype is usually created by one of three people:
- App Founder or Project Manager. If you have an idea how you want your app to look and function, you can create the low fidelity prototype yourself. It will give others a good idea of exactly what you are looking for and hoping to achieve with your app. It can be done as a rough hand drawn sketch, or you can use one of the numerous tools available specifically for the purpose.
- A UX/UI designer. You can hire a UX/UI designer to create a prototype of the app design. A UX/UI designer will work to create a pleasant, attractive user experience with a user interface that is interactive and easy for the target audience to use.
- App Developer. A mobile app developer within the app development agency can create the prototype. In fact, some app development companies have members within the development team who specifically design prototypes. What more commonly happens is the developer is presented with a lower fidelity prototype and works with it to add more detail. That detail could include some of the functionality that the app will ultimately have.
What tools can be used to create a low fidelity prototype?
Many tools can be used to create a prototype, the easiest and lowest fidelity case being a pencil and paper. For something with a bit more detail, these are common SaaS prototyping tools that app founders, UX/UI specialists, and developers use:
- Figma lets teams create, share, and collaborate on designs in real time. It is user friendly and allows you to create and edit designs in an organized way. Figma also supports design elements including shapes, text, images, and symbols as well as grid layouts, custom fonts and design libraries.
- Adobe XD is an all-in-one UX/UI solution for prototyping websites and desktop applications as well as mobile apps. It is intuitive and integrated with Adobe Creative Cloud. Adobe XD also contains collaboration tools that make it easy to share and test prototypes with stakeholders.
- WordPress is known as a website creator, but by using the WordPress Customizer feature, you can create custom prototype layouts which can be tested on different devices. WordPress also has a number of plugins that you can use to customize your prototype even further.
- Sketch is a vector-based design tool specifically for a Mac, so if you’re developing an app for Mac, it’s one to consider. Sketch also has collaboration features that allow several designers to work on the same project simultaneously.
- InVision is a prototyping and collaboration platform used for designing websites and both mobile and web apps. It has easy to use drag and drop tools for creating interactive prototypes. It tends to be more pricey than the other options, however.
Matraex is a software and app development company based in Boise, Idaho. We would like to help you with any app development questions you may have so you can be an informed consumer and make the right app development decisions for your company.
If you need answers, we’d love to help. Feel free to contact us through our website or leave us a question through our Google Business Profile. You can even call us at (208) 344-1115. We look forward to talking with you and personally answering your questions.