Some of the most successful applications rely heavily on interactive elements to maintain user engagement. For example, the social media sector has discovered how to tap into a variety of psychological features that motivate consumers to continue using their apps. These days, product design is much more than just static images. Creating interactive prototypes is now easier and more helpful than ever before when developing digital products.
What Is Interactive Prototyping?
It can be difficult to put abstract ideas into words. The practice of exploring design ideas by creating an interactive experience that allows others to view your vision is known as interactive prototyping. When pitching a concept, explaining design specifics to an engineer, or conducting a usability-test session to confirm your design, interactive prototypes are quite useful.
Interacting with an interactive prototype might give you a sense of how the finished product will appear and feel. When a user clicks on a button or menu, it appears as if the button or menu is active. Because of this imitation of interactivity, interactive prototyping is particularly useful for:
- Understanding task flow and context of use by having a user engage with the prototype as if it were live software.
- Because of its better interaction fidelity, it can validate assumptions in scenarios, requirements, and user profiles.
- In usability testing, you get more detailed feedback about your product than you would with paper prototypes. This is because the prototype looks and feels more like the real thing.
- Obtaining feedback from remote stakeholders who are unable to attend an in-person meeting
What Is a Clickable Prototype?
A Clickable Prototype depicts a visual representation of a website’s or software application’s user interface. Unlike static wireframes or mockups, it can depict several states of the application, such as a drop-down menu or previously hidden additional information or fields. A Clickable Prototype provides an interactive experience similar to that of a finished application.
Clickable prototypes are frequently created in the most cost-effective manner and with a lower level of detail than the final product.
What is the Function of Prototypes in Product Design?
You may be wondering about the genuine benefits of generating interactive prototypes during the product development cycle. Essentially, even if you opt to take the quickest path and construct a simple, low-fidelity prototype, the obvious truth is that this endeavor will require time and hence money. Why should you construct one and not the entire product right away?
Prototypes improve the overall understanding of the design
When it comes to understanding a concept or idea, most people are visual. Rapid prototyping services aid in the illustration of the final product, helping the design team to understand the product’s function and target audience.
Validate design idea
A prototype is the quickest approach to validate your solution with prospective users. Users may not see all of the potential faults they may encounter while engaging with the real product if they are shown static images with no context or real flows.
Minimize design error
If a product is nearing completion, making radical alterations will result in additional work and an increase in budget. Prototypes allow design teams to make modifications early on, eliminating extra effort and expenses.
Allows for user testing
Every product has a target audience, and at the end of the day, the audience is going to have the final say. Prototypes allow for user testing, which provides designers with valuable feedback about their product. With their insights, the design team can make changes early on. Interactive prototypes also allow you to demonstrate how the final product will feel and function, which is a fantastic approach to start a conversation with engineers, managers, and other stakeholders. With this knowledge, estimating the time and resources required to perform such interactions becomes far more achievable.
Improves team communication
Creating any product requires a team of designers that can effectively communicate their ideas and concepts with one another. When they have a physical product, it’s easier to provide feedback and see whether the product has a specific limitation. Prototypes ensure that the product they’re creating is serving its purpose.
Prototypes attract investors
The ultimate purpose of a product is to be developed and then mass produced for the benefit of consumers. It’s natural for a product to run into financial difficulties and necessitate a larger budget. If a product requires additional expenditure, having a prototype is a desirable feature. Investors are not interested in spending money on a design that may or may not work once it is manufactured. This is because they need a tactile representation of what they’re investing in.
Why You Might Want a Clickable Prototype
A Clickable Prototype is a display of a prospective product that is used to get more accurate input (usually via UX tests) from users:
- Product owners/decision makers - They decide what is in and out of scope, as well as what is included in the MVP. Clickable Prototypes help with gaining agreements, support, or even investment for a project.
- Developers - A prototype can help to avoid miscommunication between developers and product owners or UX experts.
- End users - It allows people to realize and affirm their desires. It is possible to test concepts and hypotheses using prototyping as an agile method (e.g., layout or design of the website). Prototypes aid in the prevention of severe late alterations or even the rejection of the final product.
Prototyping software development can be faster and less expensive than programming, reducing wasted effort on unnecessary functionality.
Types of Prototyping
What is the best way for me to construct an interactive prototype, given that there are so many options? To answer this question, we must consider a variety of factors. However, the truth is that you don’t have to be a professional designer or even use software to validate your idea! It would be hard to include all of the available tools because there are simply too many of them, and new ones appear on a regular basis, but here are a few categories of tools that will make the process go even more smoothly.
A paper prototype designed to show user flow and where functionality would be located. Paper prototyping, usually done through sketching application screens, is extremely useful for swiftly gathering thoughts or comments within a team about a specific product idea. This is most likely the quickest and least expensive solution. On the flip side, understanding the product may be difficult, particularly for those who are not designers or developers.
A prototype made up of wireframes strung together, often along a predefined path, that is clickable via hotspotting but lacks a sophisticated user interface. This is usually a rapid approach to bring a product’s core concept to life by focusing on user flow from one screen to the next.
For a more refined and pragmatic experience, you can test design mockups that appear like screenshots from your actual product. The key advantage is that they will be much easier for users or stakeholders to grasp because they resemble the actual program or website. The biggest disadvantage is that such design mockups must be generated by a professional designer and take more time to complete. You can use programs like InVision or Marvel to generate a rapid hi-fidelity prototype without complex animations. If you need animations that closely approximate the behavior of a proper program, you can’t go wrong with tools like Flinto or Principle.
It may turn out that you wish to construct a prototype that is nearly indistinguishable from the final digital product. There is also a workaround for this. Despite the fact that this is by far the most difficult and time-consuming route, it gives the finest experience for end-users. The biggest disadvantage is that it requires (at the very least) rudimentary programming skills, which is clearly a high entry barrier.
To produce amazing digital products that people truly adore, we must be aware of the different factors that go into their creation. It is no longer enough to use the latest technologies and be the first company in the industry.
Our software must satisfy both corporate and end-user requirements. Using a lean methodology, we can confirm our assumptions and measure the consequences by creating interactive prototypes.
We want to be as Agile as possible at Mintbit, and iterative prototyping and testing during our ideation and app/web development processes is a critical component of that. We make sure that there is adequate area for continuous testing, reviewing, and feedback since we respect our clients’ and their application’s end-users’ input. We employ an MVF (Minimally Viable Feature) technique when defining a feature to design. This means that we determine the bare minimum needs for a certain functionality and create only those. We collect end-user input and improve the functionality based on the users’ experiences once it is built and live.
Quantity is required to produce quality, and employing an MVF strategy or creating interactive prototypes are possible options for achieving an iterative process that results in a successful end-product that is user centered.