App Prototyping: best practices and tips
When it comes to developing an app, app prototyping is an important initial step. For this blog, we wanted to give you some best practices and tips for getting it right the first time.
Here at Yeeply, we work with you to define your project before we find a developer to work on it. We mediate between you and the developer to ensure that outsourcing the creation of your app is a smooth and successful process. App prototyping at this stage gives you the best chance of getting a clear quotation to build what you want.
What is app prototyping?
The book ‘The Lean Startup’ by Eric Reis, is a startup must-read. One of the things that he talks about it is the idea of putting together an MVP – a Minimum Viable Product – the most basic version of what your product or offer will finally be.
In the same way prototyping an app gives you the quickest and best way to get an accurate quotation for your project. This is not about coding; in fact, this type of prototype is not coded. It is putting together a visual representation of the design, functionality and appearance of your app to get the best quotation from a developer.
Angela Zade, Marketing Manager for venture studio Evus Technologies puts it this way:
‘Wireframing and prototyping your app is a critical step… The most cost effective way to do this is through low fidelity wireframes and prototypes.’
Here are some of our top tips to getting app prototyping right the first time.
Don’t Know Where to Start With Prototyping? There’s an App for That!
There are different ways in which you can lay out your app as a prototype for quotation. As we’ve written about before on the blog there are many apps out there that let you put together the look and feel of an app without starting to code.
These are great tools, not just at the start of your project, but also as you go along. It allows you to make changes to the app’s design or features and see how those will affect its functionality or design overall.
Christopher Kane, CEO and Co-Founder of MunchMoney, tried a few apps for prototyping. His advice?
‘At first I used Balsamiq to get the ideas out of my head and on to something that resembled an actual phone… After some searching, I came across a great combo of Sketch and Flinto. Building an app is an iterative process, so don’t be discouraged when you constantly have to scrap previous ideas and designs.’
Putting together the look and features of your app doesn’t need to be done this way. Just a basic drawing or outline of how each screen will look is a great start. You can draw it yourself or use Word or PowerPoint to set up shapes for each block or button on the screen.
As we’ve written about before on the blog there are many apps out there that let you put together the look and feel of an app without starting to code. Also, if you need professional help Yeeply hosts a vetted community of designers specialized in app prototyping.
We’ve written about this and other ways to put together a basic outline of your app on the blog before.
Don’t Rush App Prototyping
Here at Yeeply, we want to help you get your project started and we know that you are keen to get going. One of the reasons that we recommend you put together an app prototype is that time invested thinking about this now is a great way to save time all the way through your project.
Director of Marketing at eSUB, Tyler Riddell agrees. He comments – ‘when in the prototyping phase, I would take your time and not rush through the process.’
What makes Yeeply different is that we mediate between you and the developer to find the right fit for your project. App prototyping is a great way to get the best quote for the project you have in mind, so time invested now is not time wasted. See more about how working with us works here.
All Eyes on UI And UX
User Interface, User Experience, customer-centric, call it what you want but you need to be aware of how your users will see and navigate your app.
When so many apps are born of a simple idea or to remove a simple pain point for the user, app prototyping gives you a way of making sure that your app will deliver what it sets out to and not confuse or, even worse, frustrate your intended users.
And it doesn’t need to look like a finished product. Teris Pantazes, CEO and Founder of EFynch actually advocates keeping early versions of your app looking more prototype than polished. He states:
‘The key to demoing a good prototype is to make it look like a prototype (labels, simple or no graphics, etc.). Make sure you keep the focus off your brand and on the product.’
This way, early versions of your app are just that, an early version. As Teris comments, so often an investor ‘views it as you finished product and the “friendly judge” has become a critic.’
Fresh Ideas For Your Passion Project
Your business and your app design are so personal to you and what you want to achieve. By prototyping your app before you start the project in full you are giving yourself the chance to look at it again with fresh eyes.
There is always something that you might have forgotten. A new feature that you could use. You might want people to log in with their social profiles but there could be a compelling reason for them to create a new account via email instead. Prototyping gives you a chance to think through all of these decisions before you start to build.
Putting down your idea in a structured fashion around a prototype gives you the best chance of getting a clear quotation to build what you want.
Keeping it Mobile to Start
When you are considering what kind of app to build it is often tempting to think you want to go to all platforms right away. But with an increasingly mobile-first audience out there, Roger Wu, Co-Founder of Cooperatize says that might not be the best idea, for your app or for your budget:
‘We were considering to build a native app and so started with a mobile friendly app. The mobile friendly app turned out to be enough and with Bootstrap CSS it let us maintain one codebase, key for a startup when you have limited resources.’
Mobile apps are a smart and agile way to get to market fast. Users are happy with a mobile-first approach, just look at the success of Instagram, so don’t be afraid to start where your users are and build from there.
With so much to consider when you are putting together the plans for your app, we recommend app prototyping as a great way to bring together everything that you want to do in order to prioritise and clarify what your goals for this product are.
At Yeeply we are keen to work with you on a successful project, and as you can see using these best practice and tips for app prototyping sets you on the path to just that success.