As we move from the sketch to prototype, the exactness of the website being developed is increased.
The product under development begins to look like the final product. That’s why it is said that the sketch and wireframe are the low-fidelity representations, the mockup is the medium fidelity representation and the prototype is the high fidelity representation of a website.
Now depending on the budget and the requirements of the client, the team may provide a prototype that is barely developed or it might be very detailed.
However, it is not the final product.
Sometimes, it might not even exactly look like the final product (in case it is a barely developed prototype).
Explaining this prototype to the client is going to be a tough nut to crack as it looks different from what the client expects.
And many times, you don’t even have enough time to explain.
On the other hand, the stakeholders can easily understand the prototype that is more meticulous.
A prototype is the simulation of the product you are going to deliver to the client.
Unlike sketches, wireframes and mockups, prototypes consist of high degree of interactivity. It is an interactive demo of the final product.
A prototype allows the stakeholder to understand the behavior of the website when it will be completely developed and delivered.
This high fidelity visual version of the website gives the idea of the functionalities.
What Are Advantages Of Building A Website Prototype?
Depending on how well the prototype demonstrates the behavior and interactivity of the website, it can have positive or negative impacts on the final product.
Here are the 6 benefits of building a prototype:
Brings User Interface to Life
The black and white version on the application drawn on a page and even the mockup is not detailed enough to give the complete idea of the key interactions.
Though it looks like the final product, the prototype is not fully functional, but it is highly interactive.
So, stakeholders can actually see how different elements on the webpage will interact with each other.
Gets Valuable User Feedback
In the end, the end user will use the product. No product can succeed if developed without considering the opinion of the end user.
The end user can easily identify important defects or limitations in the user interface and other functionalities before you invest in the final product.
This valuable feedback will help in making important improvements in the final product.
Saves Development Time
Building a prototype can save time, money and all other recourses you are going to utilize on the website.
Identifying and removing defects from the final product is very expensive.
You might have to change some code even when you make minor changes in the design.
This recoding can derail the website development from the schedule.
Useful As a Reference Tool
Designers and developers working on the project can use the prototype as a reference tool as well.
Consider a widget or some other control as an example; the developer can use the prototype to understand how a particular control is supposed to work.
The prototype can be used to get the answers of functionality related questions.
Brings Users and Stakeholders on the Same Page
Once a prototype is built, all key stakeholders and decision makers get an opportunity to see and scrutinize the application design, buttons, forms, interactions and other aspects.
By delivering a prototype with a high degree of interactivity, developers need not give a detailed explanation of every single feature and functionality of the website.
With the clear understanding of the final product, all stakeholders can confirm a common vision.
Are There Any Disadvantage of Prototyping?
It is clear from the advantages that building a prototype is a crucial step in the development of a product.
However, prototyping has some disadvantages too. It actually depends on the budget, size and complexity of the website under development.
It takes more time and other resources to build a prototype.
This might make project managers feel uncomfortable as they have to deliver the website before meeting deadlines.
If it is a big project consisting of complex and critical functionalities, you should not skip prototype as making changes in the fully developed website demands a great deal of time and efforts.
The user might also get confused between the final product and prototype.
When stakeholders appreciate and show confidence in the prototype, the team sometimes ignores the need for further analysis.
This might result in some functionalities being well-defined while some remain incomplete.
Tools for Building a Website Prototype
You need to set aside a decent amount of time if you are going for coded prototyping.
If you want to build a prototype fast then there are many prototyping tools that can make your job much easier.
These prototyping tools offer speed, consist of element libraries, advanced user flows, built-in collaborations, streamlined presentations and many more useful features.
Here is the list of the top 8 prototyping tools you can use for building from low to high fidelity prototypes.
If you are planning to give a try to one of these tools, start by learning about the features of the tool.
Just keep in mind that great website design doesn’t start with the tool but with the mind!