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UX/UI Prototyping – Invest Or Not Invest?

Ilia Kiselevich is an entrepreneur with a keen eye for emerging technologies and a deep understanding of market dynamics committed to transforming ideas into reality.

 
Executive Contributor Ilia Kiselevich

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all design that will resonate with every user. Nor are perfect solutions ever achieved on the first try. As a result, the entire product development team must generate hypotheses, test them, and devise new ideas if the previous ones fall short.


Close up UX developer and UI designer brainstorming about mobile app interface wireframe design on table.

The coding of unvalidated functionality is not a cheap endeavor, so there should be an interim solution between documentation and the actual product. And this is prototyping.


"Products that undergo at least 3 prototype iterations are 50% less likely to fail in the market."

When you are desperately trying to create a minimum viable product (MVP) while working with a limited budget, there may be a temptation to completely forego prototyping. Well, if you had such a plan, or at least thought of cutting corners at this stage, let's explore what can await you on this path.


First things first: The theory

Whether you're a startup leader or an enterprise stakeholder, I strongly believe you have to dive into the design development process. This knowledge serves as insurance for keeping abreast of how smoothly it is progressing on your project, comprehending the activities at each stage, and having a clear expectation of the outcomes.


Typically, the mobile or web application design process consists of the following steps:


  • Wireframing (UX);

  • Conceptualization (UI);

  • Mock-ups (UI);

  • Prototyping (UI/UX).


Is it necessary to follow this exact order? This is an ongoing debate. Product teams have their own unique approaches. But clickable prototyping is the last and key step in the UX and UI design process, created before final development. Wrapping up:


A UX/UI prototype is a tangible and testable design artifact at a low cost that represents an "illusion" of a working interface with intended experience, built upon sketched mockups or wireframes in a short time frame.

That is, to achieve maximum results, it is important to fulfill these 2 conditions. Otherwise, this step will not bring any benefit to your business: this is precisely what causes resistance from plenty of product owners. Let's review use cases that demonstrate prototyping is worth investing – at least, not to invest twice as much on the consequences of its skipping.


Before the explosion

The first and most important task of a UX/UI prototype is identifying errors and dead ends in the early stages of the process. Collecting user feedback in a compressed time frame is your advantage: the closer you are to launch, the steeper the price tag on any changes.


It's a basic calculation: for making revisions to the prototype, you'll only need the resources of a designer and a business analyst. With the ready-to-go product, it's much more complicated –– you'll have to bring in developers and QA testers additionally. I may recall this example.


Case 1: Financial planning app


Problem: One of the key user pain points identified early on in the prototyping stage was the difficulty in accurately categorizing their expenses.


F.i., whether an Amazon purchase for a meal kit service should be categorized as "Groceries" or "Takeout/Restaurants"? Similarly, charges from a gym membership were sometimes logged under "Health & Fitness" and other times under "Subscriptions."


Solution: Armed with these insights, the team went back and redesigned the expense tracking functionality, introducing a more expansive category library with over 50 options.


Also, they implemented a utility that enables users to create, rename, and delete custom expense categories and a split transaction feature to allocate a single purchase across multiple categories.


Demonstrating the air

I've already written about the importance of design in the context of pitching and investments. But I'll repeat myself: visual representation is what will help your partners transform that documentation, packed with technical jargon, into something real.


In order to secure funding, it's not necessary to develop a full-fledged product. Moreover, even an MVP may not be the very first step –– a prototype could be the initial approach instead. It fits these types of ventures, when entrepreneurs have to obtain financing for the development. Let me show you.


Case 2: Influencer competition app


Problem: The client reached out with their idea for a mobile app for performers to hold online contests, which had already been successfully validated. There was a wise decision to start with an MVP first.


However, to do this, it was necessary to prioritize functionality and have some artifacts in order to be able to present the product to investors, so as to get financing for this very development.


Solution: As a result of conducting a discovery phase, a clickable prototype was created in Figma, which enabled the flow realization of the innovative mechanics – online contests with monetary prizes.


Through the UX prototyping process, it became clear which 3rd-party integrations were needed, and that the MVP would initially target US georegion only. A detailed UI allowed to showcase it further. Isn't it hitting two targets with one arrow?


Final words

Finishing up, we have come to the conception that seems to be irritations first: spending time on a prototype now will save you time later. In software development, time is measured in

person-hours, yes indeed.


To stop treating this stage as a waste of resources, you need to decide in advance what you're trying to achieve with the prototype and choose the appropriate level of detail. For that, I would recommend finding a reliable team for turnkey services.


If I were asked for one final piece of advice, I would say: don't fall in love with your prototypes. Let this tool serve the ultimate goal. Fall in love with the final product that it will lead you to!

 

Ilia Kiselevich, CEO & Founder of SolveIt

CEO & Founder of SolveIt – a mobile development company, entrepreneur and product owner of HBT. Ilia Kiselevich is an entrepreneur with a keen eye for emerging technologies and a deep understanding of market dynamics committed to transforming ideas into reality. Under Ilia's guidance, SolveIt has garnered recognition for its remarkable quality of delivered solutions, award-winning UX/UI design, and 100% customer satisfaction score.

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