There are many advantages to using prototyping in software development – some tangible, some abstract.
Reduced time and costs: Prototyping can improve the quality of requirements and specifications provided to developers. Because changes cost exponentially more to implement as they are detected later in development, the early determination of what the user really wants can result in faster and less expensive software.
Improved and increased user involvement: Prototyping requires user involvement and allows them to see and interact with a prototype allowing them to provide better and more complete feedback and specifications. The presence of the prototype being examined by the user prevents many misunderstandings and miscommunications that occur when each side believe the other understands what they said. Since users know the problem domain better than anyone on the development team does, increased interaction can result in a final product that has greater tangible and intangible quality. The final product is more likely to satisfy the user’s desire for look, feel and performance. READ MORE
A PERSPECTIVE ON PROTOTYPING BENEFITS
As software projects have become longer and more complex in recent years, prototyping has emerged as a powerful tool for developers. Professional prototype based specialists’ stay on top of the latest in design and technology to improve the overall product and user experience. The prototypes themselves can range from very simple to very complex. Here’s a look at four reasons why so many organizations are now building prototyping into their software development lifecycle.
1. Users Are More Involved. Organizations that prototype often do so as part of an iterative feedback loop in which the product is continually evolving. To begin with, the business creates a minimum viable product (MVP), which entrepreneur Eric Ries defines it as “that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.” The MVP is released to beta testers and potential users. These groups interact with the product and provide their insights. These comments are incorporated into the next version of the product. At this point the cycle repeats until you get a production-ready application. Building feedback into the development process ensures that the software is more responsive to user needs and desires.
2. Satisfy Requirements (and Clients). All organizations want to deliver higher-quality software more quickly and at lower cost. Unfortunately, many businesses still struggle to bridge the gap between developers and business teams. In many cases, the latter group has difficulty with understanding specialized technical documents, such as functional specifications. Prototyping actually puts a working product in front of you. This makes it explicit as to what the application does and doesn’t do at this stage in development. Rather than reading a dry list of features and functions, key stakeholders can see for themselves how the software performs in action.
3. Less Time and Money. Like an actual waterfall, the waterfall model has a major (perhaps fatal) problem: It’s hard to swim against the current. By the time an application has reached the testing phase of development, it’s very expensive to make significant changes because the software is already largely complete. Prototyping, as a much more flexible model, makes it much easier to deal with misunderstandings and new developments as they crop up. This is because problems are identified and resolved earlier in the process.
4. Increased Collaboration. Another issue with waterfall development is that the different stages are often isolated from each other. Those involved in the design stage, for example, may have little or no input during the coding or testing stages of development. On the other hand, prototyping generally requires input from members across the development and testing teams. This means collaboration is a necessary reality of the process from the very beginning. Team members can work concurrently, building more complex features while releasing a more basic version of the software. Prototyping also increases interaction between developers, stakeholders and end users, making all three groups feel more invested in the project.
Building a great software application can be extremely rewarding: You get to see your vision come to life and improve the experiences of countless end users. By cutting costs, identifying problems and placing feedback at the heart of the development process, prototypes are immensely valuable tools for organizations that want to provide a quality product.
A prototype is the first full-scale and functional form of a new product design. It is used for investor demonstrations, user testing, and gives your audience a product to visualize and interact with. Prototypes are not production quality and should not be held to the same standards of the final product. Prototypes help you learn what features need improvement, so you can quickly perfect your product and get it to market. The journey from concept to market is typically a long road riddled with hidden obstacles and unforeseen turns. Building a quick prototype of a design can help smooth that path as well as present some substantial benefits. Rapid prototyping gives you the opportunity to disrupt the market with a new product. In the context there are some identifiable benefits as below:
Fail early and inexpensively: Real innovation always includes a risk of failure. By building a prototype, you can quickly weed out the approaches that don’t work to focus on the ones that do.
Gather more accurate requirements:Increased project costs are often attributed to rework due to inadequate requirements. Traditional requirement gathering techniques such as interviews and focus groups can fall short because many people find it difficult to conceptualize a product before they see it. By developing a working prototype, you can demonstrate the functionality to help solidify requirements for the final design.
Technically understand the problem: Time enhances your understanding of the problems that may occur. By developing a functional prototype, you are forced to address both the foreseen and unforeseen technical challenges of a device’s design. Then, you can apply those solutions to a more elegant system design when you move to the final product.
Conflict resolution:The best engineers have strong opinions about how certain features should be implemented. Inevitably, differences of opinion result in conflicts, which can be difficult to resolve. By taking advantage of rapid prototyping, you can quickly conduct several different iterations of the feature and benchmark the resulting performance to analyze the trade-offs of each approach. This can save time and ensure that you make the correct design decisions.
Funding:By developing a prototype to demonstrate the feasibility of your idea, you lower the risk of investment for investors (or for large organizations internal sponsors). Proving a working prototype increases the probability that your idea will be funded.
Prototypes provide the look and feel your audience needs to conceptualize a product’s capabilities. A prototype does not perform like a post- production product and should not be put in normal ware and tare conditions. The prototyping process allows you to test product features, manufacturing methods, and user experiences before full-scale production. The feedback and information you gather from prototype testing is crucial in implementing and launching a successful product. The faster you prototype, the faster you can test, improve, and launch into the market. Rapid prototyping is an opportunity to enhance your project into an intuitive and user- focused product.