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Software prototyping: how does it work?

February 8th, 2017 by Silviu Stefanescu in Software Development

Rapid PrototypingThere is no innovation without risk. And no success without several prior failed attempts. Testing a product idea is the safest way to try something new.
The digital version of initial product testing is software prototyping, the creation of an initial app or design version with just the basic functionalities. It is an efficient way to try out your vision, to see it in action before launching for public.

 

Benefits of prototyping

There are several reasons why it is a good idea to use a third-party supplier when testing a solution. First, it is a matter of time. In-house delivery of a software Minimum Viable Product can take up to a year in normal circumstances. And that’s because your core resources are (or should be) allocated to other daily tasks. Developing an untested idea as an experiment that can last a lot with internal resources, since only a fraction of your production time can be dedicated to prototyping. Second, taking resources away from production is costly and risky. Outsourcing the risk can be a much safer solution on the long term.

Prototyping with an external software developer can shorten the time of a MVP by up to ten times. Tremend’s software engineers build new projects on a regular basis. Based on over 11 years of experience, they can rapidly build a functional initial version in the following areas:

 

How software prototyping works

We have found the the following steps to be the most efficient when developing an initial, basic working solution:
1. Define initial requirements. You decide what the application will do, who the user will be and what the user will expect from the product.
2. Develop the first prototype. We put together a model of the product, focusing on core functionalities.
3. Review. You test the product and expose it to user trials for better understanding of the product experience.
4. Revise. Our developers revise the prototype based on the feedback of the publisher and/or beta testers.
5. Iterate. The process resumes from step 3 until viable functionalities and relevant conclusions emerge.

 

The main prototyping methodologies

Software prototyping is much like experimental architecture, where you add and cut here and there, expecting to see a balanced, functional building based on your vision. There are several ways we can do that at Tremend.

  • Throwaway prototyping. It works by developing a basic solution that will eventually be discarded, only to become the starting point from which you or the users can clarify the requirements.
  • Evolutionary prototyping. It works by developing a robust prototype by constantly refining it. The advantage of evolutionary prototypes over throwaway methodologies is that eventually, the prototype will make up the core of the new solution.
  • Incremental prototyping. The final product is built as separate prototypes. At the end, the separate prototypes are merged in an overall design.
  • Extreme prototyping. It is used especially for developing web applications. It breaks down web development into three phases. First: a static prototype of HTML pages. Second: the screens are programmed and fully functional using a simulated services layer. Third: the services are implemented.

 

So, why should you prototype?

Because software engineers and clients can get highly valuable feedback from users early in the project.
Because core functionalities can be tested and adjusted to meet the needs of the final user.
Because the user experience can be improved through several iterations up to the level where the brand/product/business proposition stands out ahead of the interface.

Other advantages reach further into the practical testing of a solution:

  • Users are actively involved in the development
  • Errors can be detected much earlier
  • Missing functionality can be identified easily
  • Confusing or difficult functions can be identified
  • Requirements validation
  • Quick implementation of incomplete but functional application

 

With an excellent track record of developing over 300 solutions for companies in 15 countries, our software engineers can rapidly build a functional initial version of an IoT, eCommerce, enterprise or a customer software product. If you need to build your idea into a prototype that you can easily validate, we are one e-mail away. Just say hello@tremend.ro for a free consulting meeting.

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