Step-by-step Guidance on How to Proceed from an App Idea to a Prototype!

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The journey from app ideation to prototyping – checking the relevance of the app idea before jump-starting the app development process – is one of the most crucial milestones for crafting an impeccable application. The reasons are:
  • App owners get a better perspective about the purpose of the proposed app and its target audience.
  • It helps in keeping the designer and the app owner on the same wavelength regarding the app design and ensures that the idea is implemented as intended.
  • It helps in identifying and resolving the potential usability problems.
  • It provides a competitive advantage while you pitch your app to potential investors.
However, to successfully prototype an app, you must be aware of the right steps. So, I have penned down the key steps involved in prototyping an application.

App Ideation to Prototyping: Key Steps

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Pre-prototyping Stages

Prior to prototyping, check whether your app idea is financially promising and technically feasible.
1. Defining the Objective
The crucial questions concerning app ideation that should be answered during this stage are:
What’s the app’s objective?
Does the app fulfill any specific consumer/business requirements?
So, the very first step is capturing the app idea and visually representing it on a piece of paper. Paper prototyping should be kept simple without using any colors, or art and should include only a rough list of the doodles or features of the UI of the envisioned app. This is a rough visualization of the app idea that will be recreated as well as refined into digital format during the later stages.
2. Mobile Market Analysis
For validating the effectiveness of your concept, one should conduct a mobile market analysis for understanding the following particulars:
  • The present demand for the proposed application
  • The upsides and downsides of existing apps that target the same set of audience
This stage determines whether the idea is effective, is capable of competing with similar apps existing in the market and whether the app launch timings are suitable for its success.
3. Creating Relevant testing Personas
The next step is to create relevant types of personas for subsequent testing processes. These personas represent the preferences, predicted behavior, values, etc. of the would-be app users.

Prototyping Stages

1. Wireframing
A wireframe is a simplified, low fidelity outline of the proposed end-product comprising of words, lines, boxes, and even descriptions. It is simply the structure of the app designed by first formulating the requirements. User flows (the sequence of actions needed by the end-user for reaching their destination) are created for every major feature of the app. Wireframes are created either on paper or using the graphics editor software. Check out the key steps.
  • Design positive workflows: Conduct a rough mock-up for each screen, using tools like Sketch, Figma, Adobe, Balsamiq, or Illustrator. Thereafter, organize the screens into flows by adding arrows and comments for example – Click the button ‘A’ for opening screen ‘B’.
  • Add error screens: When the end-users fail to achieve their objective, error screens inform them about the occurrence of an error or the failure of an action.
2. Static Prototype: Creation and Testing
Now, develop a static prototype based on the outcome of wireframing. This stage can be executed alongside wireframing as well. Its prime intention is to establish and display the transitions amongst app pages.
The next step is conducting the A/B testing of this prototype. It involves creating interactive prototypes and sharing them with software industry veterans, volunteering individuals, and various personas that represent the app’s target audience. User testing helps in receiving feedback on the app’s crucial usability aspects such as:
  • Is there any element hampering the app’s functionality?
  • Are the UI element texts easily understandable?
  • Are the users able to conveniently navigate through the interface layout?
  • Can the end-users effectively use the UI to execute intended actions?
Prototyping helps the investors get a real view and feel of the product. It allows the testers to get an idea about the app’s usability, and the developers to be well-versed with the intended UX prior to finalizing the design.
3. Revamping the Prototype
This stage involves resolving the flaws detected and revamping the app based on the testers’ feedback. This ensures that the app’s functioning is intuitive and convenient, and the app becomes more attractive to potential end-users in the future. Once this stage is completed, the prototype comes back to the testing stage and this cycle goes on till satisfactory outcomes are achieved.
4. Finalizing the Design
Once all parties approve of the prototype, the app’s UI design is finalized. This includes finalizing the app idea, the shape of buttons, etc., and achieving a consensus on the use of colors. After the design creation process is completed, testing is conducted for checking the validity of the selected UI solutions and the appearance of the visual elements.
5. Product Demo
Now, it’s time to combine screens into a prototype; either a clickable one or one with arrows; for demonstrating it to the clients or potential investors. Remember to be transparent with them about whether the prototype is the actual functioning product or not. The key points to highlight in the demo meeting are:
  • Clarity about the proposed application
  • The reason why it’s a profitable investment option
  • A pitch that displays the business model, problem, and solution
  • The app’s prototype to make them walk through the future app.
After the demo, the customers would wish to make certain changes. These requested changes should be executed at the earliest and arrange for another demo. Once, the clients are satisfied, the finalized user flows are handed over to the developers for preparing the cost estimate.

Bottom Line

Prototyping is undoubtedly a crucial aspect of the project planning stage and app creators shouldn’t ignore its importance.
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