Importance of UI prototyping in application development

by | Application Development

Every user wants to achieve certain goals while accessing the information on the internet or using apps. The success of your website, web app or mobile app depends on how easily the users can achieve their goals while using your platforms.

In this article, we are going to talk about how UI Prototyping can help you build successful digital assets that can maximize the ROI.

UI Prototyping: A Basic Understanding

Every software has 2 top-level components.

  • User Interface
  • Backend

It does not matter to the users what kind of technology, in the UI or Backend, you have used while developing the app if the users are not able to perform the activity for which they are using the app.

If the UI is not intuitive, easy to navigate and simple, users will find it hard to finish their tasks. This increases the churn rate of your apps.

The complexity of the apps’ functions adds complexities to the UI also. It is important to make the UI as simpler and UX as smother as possible.

Traditional UI Development Methods

Starting UI development based on thoughts or ideas

As UI development was not a largely discussed topic at that time, there wasn’t enough research available on the internet. So, many developers used to develop UI based on their knowledge and experience. Suppose a developer completes the development and you get to see the UI, but you find a major problem in it. The developer has to again make those changes based on your brief sent on email or discussed on the call. And, if there is any gap in the understanding of those changes, it will again increase the lead time – causing the delay in the delivery of the project.

Developing UI based on a reference UI

Many times developers used to copy the UI of similar products. The major problem in this approach is the lack of understanding of the effectiveness of that UI. Copying a strategy without studying it, is not good for any organization. Any problem in the copied UI can result in a very high churn rate and effectively decreasing the ROI.

Designing a Static UI

In the traditional approach, designers would create a static version of the UI developed using software tools such as Photoshop. You won’t be able to visualize how the user is going to interact with the UI. As a result, you won’t be able to understand user behavior.

Software developed without prototyping the UI may face the following problems:

  1. Delay in project timelines – since there are going to be too many iterations and updates, your software development team won’t be able to finish the work in time.
  2. Increase in the project cost – due to more iterations, you need more time to finish the project which adds additional costs.
  3. Cancellation of the project – if the costs and timelines are crossed by a significant margin, there is a possibility that the project may be canceled.
  4. Failure of the project – Poor user-experience causes a very high churn rate. Because of this, you won’t be able to achieve your business goals.

Why you should opt for UI Prototyping

“People ignore design that ignores people.”
– Frank Chimero, Designer

Saves Time, Effort & Costs

Innovation comes at a risk, and every business understands this. Any kind of development which does not have a clear path can result in disaster. With a prototype, you define the path for development, which mitigates the risk and increases the chance of your success. You eliminate many potential usability issues of your software when you opt for UI prototyping.

Goal-based Research-driven Development

You have a better understanding of the users and have conducted enough research to know what the business aims to achieve with the application. The study leads to a smoother and high-performance interface that is both functional and intuitive.

The purpose of the research is to understand what kind of interface will work for your niche and deliver it accordingly. When you have both goals and requirements defined, it becomes easier for you to improve the usability of the interface.

With UI prototyping, the work done by everyone who is working on the project will be aligned with your requirements and goals.

Better Conceptualization and idea validation

The approach of starting the development based on the concept and/or the idea which is discussed on a call or meeting or email is flawed. Not everyone’s understanding of your concepts is going to resonate with you based on the piece of text.

Any gap in the understanding of the concept increases the probability of delay in the delivery of the project.

Prototypes help in bringing concepts and ideas to life and also helps understand their real-world impact before finally start developing them.

Faster Resolution of Conflicts

When more than 2 resources are involved in the software development process, it is important to create a system that will keep all the team members on the same page.

When you prepare a UI prototype, everyone gets the idea about the final output for the UI. If there are any doubts or opinions or suggestions, then it can be resolved at the prototype stage so the development team will focus on just the development part.

UI Consistency

Consistency within the interface gives way to better interactions and an increase in engagement. However, to make the UI consistent, you need to define the colors as well as the button shapes and many other UI related aspects beforehand. Prototyping helps ensure this, thus resulting in a consistent UI across the application.

Better User Involvement

With UI prototyping tools, you can test the UI on your target audience even before starting the execution. This will help you assess the usability of your solution, understand the user behavior, remove the common and critical errors in the UI and helps in defining the path for the development so the final output will help your users achieve the desired goal.

Top UI Prototyping Software Tools

  • InVision: Excellent product design platform that compels you to design, visualize, and even prototype your products for better usability. With this tool, getting feedback for your designs is easy. You can use vectors and layers to design interface solutions.
  • Sketch: This is a popular design tool, which allows you to recreate web and app solutions for better usability. You can use drag-n-drop tools to improve the app’s designs, include animations, and test for interactivity.
  • Balsamiq Mockup: It is a powerful tool that has an impressive library of icons and items. You can choose to create a high or low-fidelity wireframe using this tool, depending on your needs. it helps design unique and highly customized wireframe that is interactive and allows you to seek feedback for the same.
  • Adobe XD: One of the most popular prototyping tools, Adobe XD is akin to illustrator and photoshop, thus making its learning curve smooth. You can design a prototype from a basic concept using this tool. It offers impressive functionality including animations.

Key Takeaways

  1. As a key decision-maker for your business, you should actively participate in the software development process. While you may not be able to comprehend the technical aspects, it is important for you to understand the application from a business and user perspective. If you want to ensure the best UX, you must actively insist on the UI prototyping and actively participate in it. 
  2. Ensure the app’s UI is in sync with the brand’s image and design goals. If you have a specific brand color and icon in mind, then ensure you clear it with your designer. Clarifying your requirements early on can reduce the time and efforts taken to complete the app solution.
  3. Use current trends and design tools to prototype app solutions, which will enhance usability and flexibility. You should adapt to the user’s needs and the technical considerations for ease of use and intuitive navigation.
  4. Integrate smart-analytics tools that track user behavior across the app. Based on the insights drawn from the analytics data, keep improving the app UI to provide the best UX to the app users.

You can use prototyping to understand how users connect with the software solution, and what makes them want to use the solution.

It is more about the users and less about the design and business. It syncs the user’s needs with business goals, which leads to impressive outcomes and experiential solutions.

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