5 Reasons to Prototype Software
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Compared to what was developed just a few years ago, modern software is growing increasingly complex. No matter what type of software you’re looking to develop, it’s important to always follow the software development life cycle (SDLC). While all of the phases are important in designing a successful piece of software, the earlier steps are truly the most critical.
Before your software ever becomes reality, you want to take the time to plan and analyze the software. The earlier phases should include activities such as project initiation where a project team is identified, requirements gathering, analysis, and of course, design planning.
Wireframing and prototyping are key activities during the design planning phase. Keep reading to learn 5 reasons why it’s so important to utilize prototype software before you move to the development phase.
1. More Accurate Requirements Gathering
As a software developer, you likely know the pain of having to rework and redesign software because of inadequate requirements. Before you ever begin to develop, you want to have solid customer requirements so that you know exactly what the client is looking for, to include features, functionality, and any UX/UI requirements.
Most project teams participate in requirements gathering meetings and focus groups. While these meetings are a good way to discuss process needs, existing problems, and to gather high-level requirements, they often fall short. This is because clients often have a hard time conceptualizing a product before they can actually see it.
By developing a working prototype, you can walk users through a barebones solution that allows them to see the functionality of the software. This helps to solidify requirements so that your final design is exactly what the customer envisioned.
2. Find Issues Early On
Developing new software always comes with the risk of failure. But, it’s much better to fail early on in the process than months into it. By taking the time to prototype you’re able to work out any kinks or issues early on in the process. You’re able to figure out which approaches will work and week out the ones that don’t exactly meet customer requirements and needs.
Failing early and spotting issues early on in the process is also much more costly. If you’re able to fix an issue before it becomes a more serious problem, you’ll spend much less time back-tracking and reworking. The less time you spend fixing issues later on that could have been caught in the earlier stages, the better
Remember, it’s much easier to fix bugs when the product is in its bare bone stages. Fine tune early on in the process and you’ll find that developing becomes much easier.
3. Save Time & Money
Software development is expensive. It’s even more costly when you’re reworking and rewriting the software during the testing phase of development. By creating a prototype, you’re able to avoid the fatal problems that come with a lack of planning and pre-development coordination. It’s extremely difficult, time consuming, and expensive to make significant changes to software once it’s already mostly complete.
On the other hand, prototyping is inexpensive and it offers much more room for flexibility. By ironing out issues ahead of time, misunderstandings, new requirements, and other developments can be more easily addressed.
4. More Collaboration
Waterfall development is problematic in that the stages of software development often become isolated from each other. There’s nothing more problematic than having your UX designers, coders, and testers working from different requirements and expectations. Working each phase in a silo is a sure fire way to fail.
But, by prototyping, you can get input from each of the project teams. From development to testing, you can work concurrently to build a product that best meets customer needs.
Prototyping is also beneficial in that it greatly improves the interaction between stakeholders, developers, and end users. This makes everyone feel more invested in the project and the overall product.
5. Easier to Get Customer Buy-In
It’s impossible to know if a piece of software meets a customer’s needs if they aren’t able to visually see it. No matter how well you explain and market the product, there’s nothing that replaces a tangible representation of the end product. Prototyping software makes it much easier to sell the product to potential customers.
When clients have the ability to see and interact with the software, they don’t have to only rely on concepts and words when making a potentially expensive business decision. This makes it much easier for a customer to commit to purchasing the product.
Prototype Your Way to Software Success
Planning, designing, and prototyping are the building blocks of a sturdy foundation for a new piece of software. If you want to minimize bugs and get early customer buy-in, it’s important that your team takes the time to create a prototype of the full scale software that will eventually be built.
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