Mobile App Prototypes for Fundraising, Validation, and Failing without Fear.
At 3Advance, we believe that the design phase for mobile application development should include a prototyping stage. During this stage, users can “play” with your ideas and give you valuable feedback that will shape the final design and user experience. It gives you a greater understanding of your own product and helps you discover any potential pitfalls. This can save time and money in development and create products that offer significantly better user experiences than ones that move from concept to production with no evaluative stages in between.
What Is a Prototype?
A prototype is an interactive representation of a product that can be tested by users. By creating and testing a prototype, you can find and fix problems before you expend valuable development time creating the actual product. The journey from concept to market is typically a long road riddled with hidden obstacles and unforeseen twists and turns. Building a quick prototype of a design can help smooth that path. Incorrect assumptions, if discovered early, will save you a lot of frustration and money in the long run.
What Are the Benefits of a Web or Mobile App Prototype?
1. Inexpensive lessons – fail early and cheaply
Thomas Edison once said in jest, “We now know a thousand ways not to build a light bulb.” Unfortunately, ideas and mock-ups of a design can sometimes be far removed from the world in which the product will be used. By creating a prototype, it is possible to interact with the product and determine which aspects are worthwhile and which parts need to be revised or discarded. In this process, it may be possible to find glaring omissions that, on paper, weren’t noticeable at all. Better to know this now than at the end of the lengthy and costly development process.
2. Product validation – listen and refine
Almost half of all project costs are attributed to rework due to inadequate requirements. Even with the experience that we have here at 3Advance and your understanding of the problem to solve, we might get this wrong. An idea that sounds great in theory may fail in the real world. The prototyping phase is an opportunity to right the wrong before you spend a penny on development. Interviews and focus groups done in advance are worthwhile, but it is difficult to conceptualize a product before seeing it. If your target audience doesn’t like what you’ve designed, they won’t use the finished product, so learn what you can, iterate, and repeat before production begins.
3. Technical understanding – estimate and mitigate costs
Have you ever thought, “If I could go back in time, I would change…”? By developing a functional prototype, you can avoid many of these regrets and save your developers countless hours creating a feature that your users don’t care about—which ultimately saves you money. Prototyping forces you to address both the foreseen and the unforeseen challenges of your new application. Keeping in mind budget and timescales, the developers can effectively use your prototype as a blueprint, allowing the development team to evaluate and suggest steps that can be changed, combined, or even removed. This will ensure your product is as cost effective as possible, and that this cost is known up front.
4. Fundraising and pre-sales – sell before spending
Just like it is far easier to see if there are any problems with a design by holding an actual interactive prototype, it is also far easier to sell to potential stakeholders, investors, and customers when they have a prototype to hold and manipulate at a marketing presentation. Without a prototype, it’s only a concept. It can be difficult to get a potential customer to commit to the purchase of a concept. With a prototype in hand, the concept instantly becomes real and it is far easier to sign up investors, stakeholders, and potentially even customers.
By developing a prototype to demonstrate the feasibility of your idea, you lower the risk of investment and therefore increase the probability that your idea will be funded.
As you can see, there are many reasons why working on a prototype at the early stages of your project is highly beneficial. You can spend less, learn more, raise money, and perfect your user experience before you dive straight into development. It’s a low-risk way of getting started that is hugely valuable. Your investors, your development team, and your users will thank you later, because it’s a win all around.
If you’d like to learn more about validation, fundraising or pre-selling with a prototype, drop us a line or click here to see some of the startup prototypes we’ve designed. We’d love to get the chance to work with you.