Prototypes: how to create a successful product and save
Six months ago, in an article about how small usability errors create big problems for businesses , I mentioned the unsuccessful launch of Delisamok, whose raw application caused a big wave of negative.
Recently, walking around Moscow, I remembered a startup and decided to check it myself. But after 15 minutes, I realized that there was no chance to rent a scooter, and the 1.5 rating in the AppStore is fully justified and confirms that it’s not just mine.
A lot of money was probably spent on launching a startup of this magnitude. And a rating of 1.5 seems to hint that you have to spend more.
Could the Delisamokat developers avoid this situation and release a more convenient application right away? Yes, if you first made a prototype and tested it on real users.
From the article you will learn:
- What are prototypes
- How to make a first-class prototype
- How to distinguish a good prototype from a bad one
- How to save a business $ 25 000
What is so important about your prototypes?
The concept of prototypes in the ordinary world is quite old. The construction of any building is preceded by a project (project = prototype), the production of a production car is a concept (concept car = prototype). Despite this, in the digital world for a long time, even high-budget projects were actually developed at random, and products for medium and small businesses in general were inspired by contractors.
A prototype in the digital world is a visualization of a future product, sufficient to test hypotheses among users of this product, and / or to convey ideas to people who make decisions about its creation. The prototype allows you to get feedback quickly and, most importantly, cheaply: whether the interface of the business problem that you developed solves, your innovative way of interacting is convenient and understandable to users, whether the problems and problems are generally understood. Otherwise, all this will have to be solved after the launch of the product, and this is not only time spent, but also money.
Prototype prototype - strife
Prototypes, as a means of quick visualization of ideas, have become very popular in recent years and have had a positive impact on the quality of digital products in general.
At the same time, having adopted prototyping tools, the market still has not fully understood that the prototype is part of the usability process, and not project management.
Over the past few years I have talked with many designers who have a couple of dozen prototypes in the portfolio, and often they not only do not fully understand the process of creating prototypes, but they can not always confidently explain why they are needed at all.
As a result, it is increasingly possible to come across a prototype, in which there is no hint of real content, and the graphic form prevails over the content. In the fast-growing segment of UI / UX-design, full-fledged design layouts are beginning to be called the prototype, and dozens of man-hours were spent on its creation.
The situation and development of the market of prototyping tools influences the situation, where the work with the visual part receives an increasing emphasis. All this pushes to the temptation to pay special attention to the composition and beauty of the prototype, forgetting about the main thing - the structure and content.
Forming an effective structure and preparing the content is the most time-consuming and labor-intensive process, and, as practice shows, it has the maximum effect on the final product.
Prototype - the result of a set of works
Consider the steps, the implementation of which will allow you to create truly effective interface solutions based on user needs and solving specific business problems:
Research is the most important stage, the foundation for the success of all subsequent work. Despite this, there are still two ways of “research” on the market: “send us TK” and “fill out a brief for 150 questions”.
Neither the technical task nor the brief can provide the necessary level of immersion to create truly effective solutions: the technical task is nothing but the subjective perception of reality by the client, which in many ways borrows the existing solutions of competitors, but the favorite briefs do not only put different businesses a number, but also forces the client to spend considerable time answering sample questions, the real meaning of which he often does not fully understand.
Therefore, in the matter of business research, the most effective way of personal communication with the client. This allows the maximum immersion in the processes and features of each particular business, to identify subtle nuances that ultimately can and often become the basis of the entire subsequent product.
Many UI / UX-designers do not consider it necessary to communicate with users, however, user research allows you to look at the task from the other side, identify cause-and-effect relationships, understand motivation, detect fears, hear doubts, find insights.
Development of design solutions
At this stage, the research results are interpreted into specific requirements for the product: what should be the navigation, what screens are needed, what needs they should cover and much more.
For the transformation of research into product requirements, there are many tools: User-Centered-Design, Value Proposition Canvas, Jobs-To-Be-Done and others, but they all lead to one result - a conscious interface design.
The result of the development of design solutions are paper sketches - sketches, which later turn into prototypes of high detail.
Before moving from sketches to high-detail prototypes, you need to prepare all the content. The temptation to use text fish is fraught with consequences: such a prototype cannot be realistically assessed, moreover, when real content does appear, it turns out that it does not fall into an already developed product. And then the content will have to be customized under the specified framework.
Therefore, first, what (content), and then how (design).
Having gone all the way from research and development of design solutions to writing content, the team is in the maximum involvement and is able to deliver really fresh interface solutions that take into account the needs of the target audience and the business objectives. Such prototypes are easy to test on users and / or use to convey ideas to people who make decisions about creating a product.
How to distinguish a good prototype from a bad one
Here is a simple checklist that, without any knowledge in the field of interaction design, will allow you to determine if you are shoving fish as a result of a real work.
So, just a few points:
- The prototype uses only real content that matches the theme of the product.
- You fully understand what the prototype “informs” without comments and designer’s help.
- The designer argues each interface solution with links to business and user research results.
Once, one company decided to create an innovative product, the development budget of which was estimated at more than $ 25,000. The developers have already completed the writing of the terms of reference and were ready to start. In this company I had acquaintances and by pure chance it was about this project. I offered them a consultation, during which we jointly decided to postpone the development until the prototype is created and tested on real users.
But everything was decided already in the process of research, when it became clear that users do not need such a product and more efficiently use a simpler, and, most importantly, already existing solution.
This story is good in that it perfectly illustrates, on the one hand, the importance of creating a prototype before developing a real product, and on the other, the importance of the processes necessary before blindly designing an interface.
If it seemed to you that everything is too difficult and long, here is proof of the opposite: UX-challenge: designing a mobile bank application in 5 days