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What Is Software Prototyping? | Why Do You Need It

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Wazobia Technologies

November 22, 2022

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With the growing importance of software solutions, business owners are on the hunt for the best software development companies. 

 

The software development process is typically preceded by the creation of a prototype, a working version of the software, by a group of developers committed to providing a comprehensive and distinctive solution for their clients. 

 

This article is a guide to help you learn more about software prototyping, including its necessity, the model and procedure by which it operates, and the pros and cons accompanying it.

Here's an outline:

  • What Is Software Prototyping?
  • Why Do You Need Software Prototyping?
  • Software Prototyping types
  • The prototyping process
  • Methods of creating a prototype
  • Advantages of software prototyping 
  • Disadvantages of software prototyping
  • Best Practices for software prototyping
  • Popular prototyping tools
  • Substitutes for Prototyping
  • Conclusion

 

WHAT IS SOFTWARE PROTOTYPING?

Several misconceptions surround the widely used term "software prototyping." To put it simply, a software prototype is just a foundational product that closely approaches the look and functionality of the final software product. Some prototypes are different, though, and this is not always the case.

 

There are two software prototypes: high-fidelity (HiFi) and low-fidelity (LoFi). HiFi prototypes closely resemble the final product in terms of functionality. 

 

The HiFi prototypes show the program off in all its glory, with only a few minor tweaks needed to make them perfect. The drawback is that developing high-fidelity prototypes takes more time, increasing development expenses.

 

And then, there are low-fidelity prototypes (LoFi), which are essentially two-dimensional figures or charts. LoFi prototypes are limited to black-and-white feature lists and explanations rather than fully working recreations of the original programs. 

 

Instead, loFi prototypes are used to show the idea behind the application's goals and get support from other parties involved in the application development.

 

Prototype software, in a nutshell, is an almost exact copy of the final program that may or may not have the same logic as the final software. Nonetheless, startups showcasing a new product or service to potential customers, investors, and clients need to have access to prototype software that is detailed enough to showcase the product effectively.

 

WHY DO YOU NEED SOFTWARE PROTOTYPING?

An entrepreneur or brand may need a software prototype model for a variety of reasons:

 

Regarding Unifying the Vision

Software prototypes can assist you in evaluating the direction and progress of applications still in development. 

 

They display incremental functionality and the final software product's guide without requiring substantial additional resources. 

 

In addition, prototypes can be helpful at all phases of software development (e.g., a separate prototype for an MVP, a different one for the first iteration, etc.), aiding in the efficient tracking of the development process and project direction.

 

For External Involvement

Some software development initiatives necessitate the participation of external stakeholders, investors, or clients. 

 

Prototypes can be incredibly valuable for involving third parties to demonstrate in-progress software appropriately. In addition, entrepreneurs and developers can improve software based on feedback from outside sources, which may be essential for getting third-party funding.

 

To Evaluate The Time And Resources Available

Models of software prototypes can also be used to evaluate any last-minute changes to the SRS (software requirement specifications). 

 

Models are helpful in determining whether or not the software is compatible with new requirements and whether or not modifications can be performed before deadlines or resources are depleted. 


You can also utilize software prototypes to verify the actual status of the software when all resources have been exhausted.

 

SOFTWARE PROTOTYPING TYPES

There are four practical classes of software prototype models:

 

RAPID/ THROWAWAY PROTOTYPING

Rapid prototyping is appropriate for meeting such testing needs or showcasing tiny modifications. 

For this reason, rapid prototyping is primarily utilized in agile development methodologies, where minimum modifications are generated and implemented rapidly between sprints.

 

Obsolete prototypes are ineffective as software development advances from one phase to the next. 

Therefore, rapid prototyping is sometimes referred to as trash prototyping, as each initial prototype quickly becomes irrelevant to the present level of development.

 

PROS OF USING RAPID PROTOTYPING 

Time savings - quick prototypes are stacked upon one another, avoiding development from the start.

Universal - iterative development is beneficial for both small and large projects.

Cost efficient - Rapid prototyping has little effect on software development expenditures, requiring only minor changes to iterative models.

 

EVOLUTIONARY PROTOTYPES

It is not uncommon for software requirements to be murky when a project begins, necessitating small and large adjustments. 

To solve this problem, we create evolving prototypes incorporating just the features we fully understand. Then, stakeholders can chip in to clarify and define needs when the evolving prototype is proven valid.

 

External comments, new requirements, and compatibility are all incorporated into an evolving prototype through an interactive process in evolutionary prototyping. 

 

Evolutionary prototypes are comparable to MVPs in that they focus on developing only the aspects that have been thoroughly researched and understood from the outset.

 

PROS OF USING EVOLUTIONARY PROTOTYPING

  • Helps comprehend all software prerequisites
  • Facilitates the identification of any final product features that are lacking, preventing their use.
  • Result in a more well-liked software solution since feature development is guided by input from key stakeholders

 

INCREMENTAL PROTOTYPE

Because corporate systems are often modular and require extensive integrations, incremental prototyping is the only viable approach for enterprise software. 

 

This prototyping creates many smaller prototypes for each component of the complete software solution. 

 

Once these prototypes have been made, they are merged into a single large prototype that reflects the actual software.

 

All developers and the development process must be in sync for incremental prototyping to be distinct. Otherwise, each smaller prototype may appear from a specific software package, resulting in a disconnected appearance.

 

PROS OF USING INCREMENTAL PROTOTYPE

  • It is the only viable prototyping approach for enterprise-level software
  • It is highly adaptable, as it is simpler to make alterations to smaller models.
  • As troubleshooting is limited to smaller application areas, it is proficient at locating faulty code.

 

EXTREME PROTOTYPING

There are three phases of extreme prototyping, with the second being the most crucial in web development. Layers of a revolutionary prototype model, such as the presentation or user interface layer and the service layers of communication, business logic, and authentication, are crucial during these phases.

 

The following are the three phases of extreme prototyping:

  • The first step is to create a presentation layer HTML construct.
  • The second step is integrating the prototype's service layers to create a fully functional model.
  • Third, finish up production by setting up the service layers.

 

PROS OF USING EXTREME PROTOTYPING

  • Reduce web development time significantly by doing away with unnecessary steps.
  • Extreme prototyping's iterative process makes it simple to show off each phase of a web development project.

 

 

THE PROTOTYPING PROCESS

1.  Requirements Collection

The initial step of the prototype method is to identify the software's problem and create a complete version of the solution. 

In this regard, the developing team must clearly understand the activities for which the application will be used on the platform. 

 

Developers must inquire with the project owner about the features and functionalities in great depth for this. 

The owner can share his thoughts on the proposed software design in this section. 

 

After comprehending the project's nature and requirements, developers can design a prototype.

Before beginning the prototype's design, the developer must ensure that he has all the necessary information. 

As per the requirement analysis, he can provide all software aspects in the prototype.

 

2.  Construct the First Prototype

Focusing on the general layout of the software application's graphical user interface is used to develop the early prototypes. 

 

In addition, the client describes the system's capabilities in the initial phase. 

It may take the shape of wireframes on paper, which are low-fidelity prototypes. In this section, the application's structure is sketched informally, and a few of its fundamental functions are emphasized.

 

3.  Development of a Detailed Prototype

If the developers need to construct a more detailed functional prototype for their usage and the client's assessment, they can create a detailed version of the software's design and code. 

 

This can aid in our comprehension of the design and development team's business process implementations. 

 

And for this, they can construct an entire architecture using advanced design and software prototyping techniques.

 

4.  Revise

After considering the client's feedback and needs, the final step in the software prototyping process is to revise the developed prototypes.

 

 

METHODS OF CREATING A PROTOTYPE

1.  Drawings and diagrams

In the early phases of a normal prototype process, sketches are the most effective means of transforming ideas into reality. In contrast, diagrams are helpful in simplifying difficult situations.

 

2.  Storyboards

As a prototyping technique, storyboarding effectively creates notable ideas and gains knowledge of the target audience.

The role-play approach entails documenting and expressing a user's emotional experience while using a product. 

 

Role-plays are flexible, but their most practical application stimulates the user's environment.

This methodology applies to the prototyping of digital products. It is inexpensive, straightforward, and excellent at identifying usability issues.

 

ADVANTAGES OF SOFTWARE PROTOTYPING

The following are the advantages of software prototyping:

 

1.  Visual Representation

By presenting a visual picture of the idealized program, prototypes provide a more accurate representation of the product. Entrepreneurs, stakeholders, and testers utilize prototypes to comprehend functionality and features. 

 

All stakeholders can assess whether the prototype meets their expectations and have a sense of what to expect from the development process. 

 

This facilitates strategic planning and the establishment of an attainable objective for the launch of the final product.

 

2.  Detecting Risk

The most beneficial aspect of designing prototypes is that nothing is concrete. As requests from stakeholders are added to and tested on the prototype, issue areas are frequently recognized, and defects can be eliminated. 

 

In addition to identifying risks, prototype review aids in identifying potential obstacles and issues that can arise when software is put into production.

 

3.  Commencement

For the final program, prototypes serve as a training model. In addition, prototypes aid in detecting and correcting problematic areas before introduction, as opposed to after the brand's image has been tarnished.

All of this provides a speedy, well-measured launch that is not only less expensive but also saves time.

 

4.  Allows For The Development Of Innovation

In addition to detecting hazards, prototypes aid in determining and enhancing your software's most valuable features. 

 

Competent developers and entrepreneurs will add complimentary features or plan for future upgrades to increase the value of their products. 

 

You may also find unique selling elements that define your product and guarantee that future improvements do not conflict with high-value characteristics.

 

DISADVANTAGES OF SOFTWARE PROTOTYPING

1. Pricing of Various Prototypes

Prototypes can be developed at a variety of stages and are equally helpful at each step. Small brands cannot build multiple prototypes for a single project, however.

 

Although a prototype costs a fraction of what it takes to produce the final software, developing many prototypes can cause even the most prominent businesses to go over budget.

 

2.  Inadequate Research

When a developer focuses solely on the prototype, it can impede his ability to analyze the overall project. As a result, better solutions, the conversion of restricted prototypes, and insufficient specifications can be overlooked.

 

3.  User Confusability

Some clients consider the prototype to be the completed project. The rough version of the system gives them the impression that the final software product is nearly complete, requiring only a final polish. 

And as a result, clients mistakenly believe the prototype to be an accurate model.

 

4.  Misinterpretation of User Goals by Developers

Customers and developers must be on the same page for the success of any software development project. 

 

This means that when clients provide a list of all essential characteristics and then demonstrate those features in a prototype, it can cause controversy among the team. 

 

The primary reason is that the proposed features may now be optimal for the software.

 

5.  Excessive Growth Period

Prototypes are developed to expedite the development process,

If the developer spends a significant amount of time building a sophisticated prototype, the project can be delayed, which can be pretty expensive.

 

BEST PRACTICES OF SOFTWARE PROTOTYPING

To prevent any of these disadvantages from sabotaging your project, implement the following best practices:

 

  • Choose the proper prototype type for your project.
  • Invest effort in planning your prototype and documenting your processes to keep your team members in the loop.
  • Before aligning them, attempt to comprehend both the user and designer's approaches and any possible conflicts.
  • During prototyping or deploying, be willing to test out new ideas and quantum leaps.
  • Maintain constant contact with your team to avoid project delays.
  • Implementing your prototype should place a significant emphasis on its features.

 

POPULAR PROTOTYPING TOOLS

The most fundamental prototyping tool is a sheet of paper. 

Clearly, it is the quickest and least expensive technique to construct a product prototype.

However, here is a list of the most often-used prototyping tools:

 

Miro - This is a collaborative whiteboard platform where teams of any size may conduct productive work.

Invision - This design platform supports prototyping, collaboration, and application design.

Figma - This cloud-based application allows you to build and share prototypes with your team.

Adobe XD - This is a flexible, on-premises platform for creating mobile and web designs through prototyping and collaboration.

Balsamiq - If you have a small team, Balsamiq is the ideal wireframing software for you. It can be used for sharing prototypes, controlling versions, and doing user testing.

Axure - This is an all-inclusive software design tool that may be utilized to ease the creation of prototypes, schematics, and specifications.

 

SUBSTITUTES FOR PROTOTYPING

Prototypes serve numerous objectives, but entrepreneurs and developers also have other options. Remember that the utility and efficacy of each solution will vary.

 

1. Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

An MVP resembles an evolutionary prototype; however, there is a significant distinction between the two. 

A minimum viable product (MVP) contains only the features required to perform the essential functions of the product. 

In addition to demonstration purposes, an MVP is primarily used for market validation, i.e. determining whether the targeted market would like the product and whether the business concept will be viable.

 

2. Proof Of Concept (POC)

Proof of Notion (POC) is a larger concept that includes a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and focuses only on demonstrating the viability of an idea in real-world situations. 

 

In general, investors require a POC to estimate their return on investment. If the product offers a better rate of return, it is deemed worthy of investment. 

 

Even while a POC is not required to be functional, the more detailed it is, the better. Consequently, an MVP is likewise included in a POC. Once the POC is completed, an entrepreneur can proceed with the development of a prototype.

 

CONCLUSION

In the complex world of software creation, prototyping is a more straightforward and less time-consuming method. In addition, it has the potential to unify the user base and the development team, which can alleviate some of the last-minute stress. 

 

In order to envision or test market their dream product, entrepreneurs at all stages of the business cycle create software prototype models. For example, prototypes might showcase the software's functioning to keep investors happy and speed up the product's release. 

 

Therefore, your chances of success increase if you choose a tailor-made prototype for your particular project. 

Software prototypes are just one option available to startup and small business owners. 

In conclusion, if you're looking to save money on the development, a prototyping software development business that can create minimum viable products and proofs of concept is worth considering.

 

author

Wazobia Technologies

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