What is a website prototype?
Website prototypes are low-fidelity mock-ups of a website that can be used to test ideas, functionality or user experience before the website goes into final development. It’s a chance for designers and developers to evaluate ideas, and for the users and project stakeholders to provide feedback or suggestions. It’s also cost effective for developers and designers to understand the thinking behind the proposed website before they embark on the challenge of building it.
A website prototype can be anything from a paper sketch, going right up to a fully functional, clickable HTML prototype. However, in most instances interactive versions are used where it is possible to reach a goal and view the all the features and functionality in action.
Why should you make time for them?
1. Saves you time and money
Taking a web project to development is time consuming and costs a lot of money. It’s much better to iron out problems you might encounter in the early stages, rather than wait until it goes to final development where it’s harder to fix.
2. Feedback from users and stakeholders
Prototypes allow you to evaluate ideas. They are a quick way of checking whether your solution to the design problem works or not, without the expense of design and development. Prototypes help sort out any conflicts between what different people think will work, or will be best for the website. They’re easy and cheap to create, so you can test multiple ideas and solutions quickly and efficiently, to see what actually works best.
3. Helps both designers and developers
Having to read lengthy, written specifications can slow developers and designers down. A workable prototype acts as a point of reference and in some cases will enable them to do their job quicker. It will be there throughout all stages of creation, thus it’s a good asset to inform others of the task.
Although some may think their website is without fault, it really is a valuable exercise to create a prototype first. Going straight into design can leave important usability issues unaddressed. You might discover crucial issues you need to deal with, however without using prototyping as part of your process, these will cost you both time and money to identify and fix.
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