Software prototyping is a great way to plan the development, validate features, and test concepts. But you can only squeeze the maximum out of a prototype if you take a balanced approach. That means taking things seriously but not dwelling on specific aspects for too long.
Neglecting some parts of the prototyping process or putting too much effort into others may be destructive in the long run. SEVEN has compiled a list of common mistakes that may prevent your prototype from serving its function correctly.
Collecting data is by far the most important step at this point. It allows making rational decisions about user experience. That’s why the project discovery stage is critically important to the development lifecycle of any product and must be very thorough. The desire to start coming up with these slick interface designs must be overwhelming. But the prototype will never work if there’s insufficient data to back it up.
No clear goal
Discovery and requirement validation plays a huge part in gradually moving forward. You must have a clear plan in your head. Here are some of the questions that need to be answered to set a clear goal and work toward it:
- What problems are we trying to solve?
- Which functionality is vital?
- What can we add later?
- Who is our target audience?
- What is the technology we’ll use?
The list can be expanded further and finding answers may lead the team to other available options, such as Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or Proof of Concept/Technology (PoC/PoT).
If the selected technology is new, then the initial experiments and a product version with only the basic software might be the first target to achieve. It will save time and money if the development team finds some incompatibilities or complications. It would still be early enough to make changes and perform course corrections.
Otherwise, these problems won’t go away. They’ll just be discovered much later, when a significant chunk of the budget was already spent on development.
Focusing too much on the prototype
A clickable UI/UX prototype is very important. However, despite being the closest thing to the final product, the vision and the software will undoubtedly change to some extent. It is a natural evolution influenced by plenty of factors, ranging from budget to a deeper understanding of what the software is actually meant to be.
Therefore software prototyping must be viewed as a means to building a good product instead of becoming an end goal itself. And eventually, a giant sinkhole where time and budget disappear.
It is also important to keep in mind the optimal release window, market situation, activity from competitors, and more.
Not collecting enough feedback
Applying feedback-based changes to the project is most beneficial during prototyping. It’s way easier, quicker, and cheaper. All of these factors allow you to conduct multiple surveys after each change you make. Opting for something that has not been confirmed by user feedback is a huge risk. And many products have failed because they didn’t fully realize what their target audience expects.
Putting the UI first
User interface is a shiny curtain for complex processes that happen within the software. To utilize the strengths of prototyping, you must focus on making the user experience intuitive and straightforward. This also means iterating a lot while collecting feedback for the focus groups. You can start finessing the interface only when the logic is simple and your users don’t have to think a lot. Because simplicity is key and it’s achieved mostly through the UX which ensures that the users will know what to expect from the software.
Not willing to adapt
Brilliant ideas can lift the product to the top. But sometimes, it just doesn’t fit into the picture. And we’ve seen amazing products never get to release date because the team wasn’t ready to let these ideas go. That’s why UX priority and feedback collection should take the helm. This is the only way to make sure that your target audience will appreciate the value of your product.
Software prototyping is a rather quick process (compared to actual development) and it allows saving time and money. But it can offer its true value only if you do it right. You have to dig deep into research, focus on UX first, UI later and do a lot of testing.
One extra week of iterating and collecting feedback can save months of development time and a big chunk of the budget. SEVEN encountered multiple cases when a good UX/UI prototype and planning helped stay within budget even with big changes to the project during development. That’s why we want to urge our clients to not fall into the most common prototyping traps. Do that and you’ll have set yourself up for success.