By prototyping we mean the early visualization and iterative optimization of a user interface. The benefit of this agile approach: We can obtain early feedback from all project participants and especially from users and easily correct designs. The result is a user-friendly application.
Prototypes are early visualizations of the system or system segment to be developed. With the help of these drafts, we clarify all important questions and requirements of the project stakeholders and users already in the user interface and prototyping phases. For example, we perform usability tests already with paper prototypes or prototypes with partial functionality. If requirements change due to test results or a usability problem is identified, we can make straightforward adjustments that would have been expensive after implementation.
Prototypes also provide valuable benefits to project participants in the company: They ensure that all persons responsible have the same conception of the system to be developed and provide for more efficient collaboration in the team.
The end result of the prototyping phase can serve as a direct template for the programming.
Before contents and functions are placed, we clarify the basic layout, compliance with formal boundary conditions, and the screen resolution, among other things. In this way, we ensure consistency from the start.
With wireframes, we establish the functional framework and clarify how contents will be displayed for the user. In order to knowingly place the focus on functions, structure, and layout, we do not yet create the fine design in this step. Instead of holding discussions about favorite colors, we use this phase to test whether contents and functions correspond to the requirements of the users.
We recommend the use of prototypes if you are planning to revise your system in whole or in part or would like to develop a new application.
Even if there are still many unclarified questions, prototyping can be used to find easy-to-implement answers. How will the numerous ideas for an application or new function look in a concrete manner on the user interface? Does it function how we imagined it to? How are the users finding our innovative approach? What can we give to the programmers for the estimation of effort?
Prototyping provides fast and, above all, explicit answers to these and other questions.
Through the use of prototypes, abstract ideas become concrete and tangible. The room for interpretation becomes minimal.
With prototypes, various ideas can be compared, supplemented, and evaluated.
If, for example, the navigation concept is not yet 100% functional, this can be changed in prototypes much easier than after programming.
Significant problems are eliminated well before the technical implementation.
We perform usability tests with the very first scribbles or prototypes with partial functionality and thus uncover usability weaknesses.
We knowingly forgo focusing on color in early prototypes. The focus is thus exclusively on structure, navigation, and content.
Depending on your wishes, we will provide you with all conceivable classifications of prototypes: from well-documented, static wireframes to interactive click dummies all the way to functional prototypes with a completely designed user interface.
Would you like to know how we have used prototypes to ensure usability in other projects? Take a glance at our case studies.
“In a user-centered design process usability.de developed a prototype of a sales application. The prototype helped us in many ways– inter alia by collecting specific target group feedback in contextual interviews, as a basis for internal technical decisions as well as for strategic decisions. In addition to the visible project results – e.g. the navigation and interaction concept – changing our working manner by implementing a user-centered approach was an additional benefit. We thank usability.de for the results.”
“usability.de supported us professionally in developing a mobile concept for our globally employed warehouse management product. [...] The customer feedback was positive in every way: An appealing, modern user interface and a significant improvement compared to the old GUI. The same applies to the smartphone and tablet interface designed by usability.de [...].”
“In usability.de we found the ideal partner to make our website user-friendly. In about 1.5 years our website and extranet were redesigned from scratch and with a special emphasis on user-centered design. Among other methods, card sortings and interviews ensured that from the first wireframe to the final website the user's perspective was optimally taken into account. [...]”