Any mobile app’s final version doesn’t just happen overnight. A mobile app that the average smartphone or tablet user has in their device is the result of several iterations of the same product, the initial one being what is known as a prototype. As a rookie mobile app developer, you may have skipped prototyping the very first one that you built to save time. You even got away with it after your first mobile app had a good number of downloads. Unfortunately, prototyping for mobile is mandatory. You might not be able to get away with skipping prototyping this time. So for your next mobile app, you’ll want to consider the following when building a prototype of it:
Your fellow competitors’ mobile apps have problems that they aren’t currently addressing, but your next mobile app will.
There’s no such thing as a perfect mobile app. So when building a prototype for your next mobile app, you’d want to take a peek over the fence of your fellow competitors. Download and install their mobile apps, and look for any weaknesses that the products may have – and haven’t been addressed. After that, figure out how you plan to build a mobile app that aims to address those weaknesses.
It’s entirely up to you whether you want to prototype for mobile digitally or using pen and paper.
There are two ways to build an app prototype. One is digital, which involves the use of interactive wire-framing and visual design tools. This can be useful if you want your mobile app’s stakeholders to feel as if they’re already using its final version after unveiling its prototype to them. The other involves the use of pen and paper, which can be useful when explaining basic stuff to your mobile app’s stakeholders (like design and user navigation flow).
Keep your mobile app prototype as simple as you can.
Whether you’re building it digitally or using pen and paper, you’ll want to ensure that your mobile app prototype is simple enough that even a kid can become its final version’s stakeholder. The number of steps that the typical user of your mobile app has to perform throughout a certain process should be countable using only one hand.
If you’re building a digital prototype of your mobile app, make sure to come up with one that doesn’t consume too much storage space and memory. However, don’t compromise high image and graphics quality just to have a lightweight mobile app prototype.
Consider referring to existing mobile app designs and making some adjustments to them instead of designing a mobile app from scratch.
In an ideal development situation, you can build a design for the prototype of your next mobile app from scratch without any project manager pressuring you to finish it. However, mobile app development in real life is deadline-driven, so you can’t really afford to spend several hours sketching draft after draft of what your next mobile app should look like.
What you can do instead is find existing mobile app designs online, note which design parts would look good for your mobile app prototype, and tweak them a bit so as to avoid a potential copyright infringement lawsuit. Just make sure to add something unique to your prototype as well so that it makes it stand out from your fellow competitors’ mobile apps.
Build your mobile app prototype as close to the real thing as possible.
As mentioned earlier, when explaining the meat and potatoes of your mobile app to its stakeholders, a pen and paper prototype is often enough. But if you want those same stakeholders to have a sneak preview of your mobile app, a digital prototype is the way to go.
However, don’t just settle for building a mobile app prototype that immediately looks like a rough draft at first glance. Create one as if it’s already your mobile app’s final version.
If you haven’t had enough time to create images and text that have to do with your mobile app while building its prototype, you can put in realistic placeholders for the time being.
Just because you’ve successfully built a fully working mobile app as its developer before doesn’t mean that you can relax and expect the same process for your next mobile app. Rather than treating it as a finished product, it’s best to think of your initial attempt to build a mobile app as prototyping. If you’ve skipped it before and put your mobile app out in the market without a prototype, don’t make the same mistake twice. Instead, build a prototype for your next mobile app by taking the above-listed considerations into account. Once you’ve perfected the art of prototyping for mobile, the next thing you could learn is how to start a startup specializing in mobile app development so that you can be your own boss.