Home > Enterprise prototyping > 6 ways that prototyping speeds up software development

Adding a prototyping phase to a design workflow is the fastest way to finish a software development project early. Sounds contradictory, right? How can adding a step speed up the development process? Surely going straight from wireframe to code is faster?

Fact check – not usually. In reality, skipping high fidelity prototyping can lead to avoidable reworks, mis-communication both between team members and between team and clients, and even project restarts.

The average enterprise IT project takes 230% longer to complete than originally planned. By integrating a prototyping phase you can avoid your project becoming just another statistic.

Let’s break down 6 ways that high fidelity prototyping can speed up a software development project.

Make structural changes without writing code

OK, imagine you go from static wireframe straight to coded software. Done and done, you might think. Then you present your coded product to the client. And they want to make changes. Not just UI design frills, but deep changes to the information architecture. Get ready to face the front-end team’s wrath.

Structural changes are heavy-going because they have ramifications for every aspect of the product and project. One change to the IA can imply a complete overhaul. You’re basically starting from zip all over again.

But if the client sees a high fidelity prototype and decides they want a change in core functionality, no problem. You don’t go back to square one, you iterate on what you’ve already built. If you’re using Justinmind, we make it even easier to make global changes with our Data Masters. Just saying.

Design, prototype, test, iterate, perfect

HIgh fidelity prototyping is the best way to fail forward, and failing forward is the fastest way to succeed. At least that’s the ethos behind companies such as Google, and we agree. Adding a high fidelity prototyping stage to a development project is like doing a dress rehearsal for a play; better to fluff your lines when no one’s watching than on Broadway.

Follow the rapid prototyping loop. Design, prototype, test, iterate until you’ve got it down.

Streamline internal communication

When you table the idea of introducing a high fidelity prototyping stage to your design and development workflow, at least one co-worker will say an interactive prototype isn’t necessary. Or maybe your boss, with her eye on the budget.

But those reluctant co-workers will be the first ones to call the project out and request changes to design, scope, budget, or application features. If you add these changes piecemeal to a coded product, the thing will end up a mess. This is how big software development projects fail.

Streamline team communication with a high fidelity prototype. Bring the prototype to sprint meetings, design meets, weekly pow-wows, whatever, and get feedback on it. Test it on co-workers. Have them comment and review your work. Interactive prototyping tools encourage collaboration and open working between design-development team members.

Make the business case with a hi-fi prototype

It’s not just design team collaboration that will benefit from high fidelity prototyping. The relationship between IT and business teams can also improve.With a high fidelity prototype you can validate business requirements, quantify design decisions, and communicate ideas more effectively. Business Analysts can collect and manage requirements in a comprehensive prototyping platform like Justinmind’s Enterprise version, and teams can then work on prototypes simultaneously.

Find out more about Justinmind Enterprise

User test right from the get-go

High fidelity prototypes are hands down the most effective way to do user testing. Users are complex, building usable software is hard, getting it wrong is expensive. In fact according to Web Usability, it can be 100x more expensive to change a coded feature than a non-coded feature.

But if you build a high fidelity prototype, you can test look and feel with real users at a fraction of the cost and in an early stage of the development cycle. Find out how to test hi-fi prototypes on users.

And an extra bonus – presenting usability-validated prototypes can help to keep stakeholders happy, as well as giving you something tried and tested to show potential funders.

Go Lean

Thanks to both Eric Ries and Jeff Gothelf, these days it’s all about being lean. In Lean UX, design and development teams aim to ship an MVP as soon as possible, and keep perfecting the finished product after release.

High fidelity prototypes are crucial to Lean UX, as they facilitate the constant learning and feedback loops essential to keeping it Lean. By rapid cycling through prototypes a Lean team boosts collaboration, feedback, and production.

6 ways that high fidelity prototyping can speed up a software development project – the takeaway

Never underestimate the headaches a badly planned project, sluggish can bring. They say that every minute spent planning means two minutes you save re-doing something. Every detail specified, every feature tested and approved means you won’t have to re-work things later. You stay Lean, ship faster, streamline communication, meet business goals and, ultimately, build a better software for users.

So, next time you start a web project, or software development, think twice before skipping your prototype phase.

Got a new project? Justinmind prototyping tool has got all your wireframing and prototyping needs covered. Changing code is hard, but high fidelity prototyping with Justinmind is easy.