Improving the existing user experience (UX) design or creating a new one from scratch is a long and challenging process. The statistics show that every dollar invested in UX design development has brought in hundred-dollar revenue. However, UX prototyping is essential to build the design procedure seamlessly and save money in the long run.
Developing an idea of how your design should look is half the battle. To successfully launch the product and be confident about its quality, designers use prototyping techniques.
Follow on, and we will discover a user experience prototyping definition, its types, methods, and useful instruments to apply when working on a design project.
What Is a UX Prototype?
A UX prototype is a test version of the design that designers create before implementing it into the platform and launching it. It addresses the doubts of two sides: designers and stakeholders. For designers, prototyping is a process of ensuring users will approve their concept based on assumptions. For stakeholders, going through prototyping gives confidence in the final design version.
What Is the Role of Prototyping in UX Design?
Prototyping has the main mission of detecting users’ pains and resolving them. While creating a simulation of the final design version, the team can track the user experience and thus evaluate it.
Prototyping in UX serves as a validation of the created concept. It gives designers real feedback from real users on how usable their design is. And based on that data, the team can make improvements so that the final version is flawless.
UX Prototype: Benefits
Even though creating prototyping samples might add up to an additional month to the development process, you will see it is worth the following benefits:
UX design prototyping provides real feedback from users. While testing the design, the users will provide you with valuable feedback on its usability. This can help identify the current design issues and eliminate them in the final version.
It saves time and money. Fixing the problems in the prototype sample is much easier than in the finished design. Redoing the design after developers will cost you more and cause inconvenience for the users.
Prototype in design checks that the requirements are met. Stakeholders will see an example of the design idea and compare it with their vision. They can add changes if needed; implementing them will be much simpler at this stage.
What Are the UX Prototyping Types?
Depending on the budget and timeframe, designers use high-fidelity and low-fidelity prototyping. Let’s look at each of the types more closely.
A high-fidelity (hi-fi) version of the design is a very close prototype sample to the final result. With a hi-fi prototype, it is possible to show it to users and receive meaningful feedback. It has all the features and interactions that will be present on the finished platform. High-fidelity prototyping is advantageous for the feedback the design team can get from users. This is because software users will use it as if it was already released. However, creating the hi-fi version is a big-budget option. It will also take some time to make it ready for testing.
Low-fidelity (lo-fi) prototyping methods offer limited functionality. This type doesn’t allow an interactive playground for a user, but just the main design ideas described in schemes and drawings.
Low-fidelity prototyping has various pros. It doesn’t require a lot of money or time. It can be done extremely quickly and cheaply. For the users, it doesn’t push them a lot, as they can be more calm looking through the graphic version of the interface. There are also a lot of possibilities for modifying the design if needed.
Nevertheless, lo-fi prototyping doesn’t guarantee a lot. Users might not get your idea just from looking at some screens, and you will not find out how they will interact with the platform.
What Are UX Prototyping Methods?
To design a prototype, UI/UX designers use various prototyping methods. Each of them has its pros and cons. So let’s see what prototyping methods exist.
As the name implies, paper prototype refers to creating design samples on paper. The prototypes can be drawn manually or printed. Designers can use low-fidelity sketches to visualize the idea.
Although paper prototyping doesn’t sound effective, it opens many possibilities. The first one is that designers can adjust the prototype as often as they want. If the current version is unsuccessful, you can just throw the paper in the trash and start over. Also, this method doesn’t require a lot of investment. All you need is a piece of paper and your imagination.
By using the paper prototyping method, designers can have quick communication within the team. Within minutes, you can design a platform feature and get feedback from your colleagues. There is no need to go into details.
As for the cons, paper prototyping doesn’t allow us to see the real picture. It just mimics the design, which might not look the same as in the final draft. It is also difficult to test paper-prototypes for users’ needs. And most likely, you will also have to make a digital version.
Digital prototypes are created with the help of software or platforms and are based on high-fidelity samples. This method relates to building an interactive interface, so users can see the design in the final version.
Any paper sample can not be compared to a digital prototype. The latter allows designers to test usability and functionality interactively. Thus, the feedback you will get from users will be more meaningful and deeper.
A digital prototype in UX, however, is a costly and time-consuming method. Designers will also have to master additional tools to create samples. And learning doesn’t come without complications.
The most advanced method of UX prototyping is HTML prototyping. This technique requires coding and can be easily turned into the final design. With the help of HTML prototyping, designers can get significant results, including all features, links, buttons, and other elements of the finished prototype.
The HTML method is valuable for its realistic nature. Users can see the real picture of the product and test it for the maximum. HTML prototyping offers all the possibilities for usability testing. You can get comprehensive feedback as if your product has already been released.
As for the disadvantages, HTML can not be handled without strong coding skills. It is a long process; before you jump into it, you have to analyze your budget and the necessity of your product.
What Are UX Prototyping Tools?
To create prototyped samples, additional tools are needed. Depending on which type and method of prototyping you choose, you will need to learn different tools. Here is an overview of the popular user experience prototyping tools.
A Sheet of Paper and a Pen
Yes, these are full-fledged tools for a paper prototyping method. This is the most primitive set of instruments every designer will find on their desk. Some experts say these tools will be used only at the early stages of the design. However, they can serve even when creating high-fidelity prototypes.
The advantage of using a sheet of paper and a pen is the availability of these tools. The company doesn’t have to invest in subscriptions, as other digital tools require. Thus, you can significantly save and plan your budget for other processes.
Indeed, paper and pen will not replace digital instruments. They aim to help create lo-fi design prototypes and demonstrate the general vision of the idea.
Invision is a browser-based platform aimed at design prototyping and design development. It has all the essential functions to test your idea: design prototypes, user journey planning, and wireframes.
Designers benefit from using Invision because of its free-from-code instruments. There are templates you can use and customize. For communication, the platforms offer meetings and presentations so you can share your design in real-time. With the Invision tool, you can also gather user feedback and analyze it.
Users of Invision have spotted the lack of animation and pre-made templates. Also, this tool has limited integration options and an expensive pricing policy that requires payment from every person. And this can be a lot for a large company.
Figma is the most recognizable and popular among all UX prototyping services. It is a cloud-based design instrument whose key feature is to provide teams with a real-time collaboration environment.
Figma is easy to use. And that is beneficial for designers as well as users. While designing, this tool allows several people to make changes simultaneously. And this fact is worth its weight in gold. Another advantage Figma provides is easy file sharing. With just a link, you can share your design, and people can look through it and edit it.
Figma can only be used online. This is not handy for designers who work remotely and don’t always have access to the Internet. Searching on Figma is another downside. Unlike on other platforms, here, you won’t be able to search by keywords or colors. Figma requires decent graphic cards and a lot of RAM for such relatively new software.
This platform is another excellent choice, especially for designers who work on Macs, since this platform was developed for Apple-oriented users. Sketch is a user-friendly software that offers different features like customizable template designs, CAD tools, and commenting features, which makes it indispensable for prototyping reasons.
Sketch is known for its simple and effective interface, which will suit even beginners in design. You would not meet any difficulties even if you hadn’t used this tool before. Another great advantage of this app is the community since the platform has gained a lot of adherents who actively create a lot of plugins for a better experience with the application.
Since the platform is only available for iOS, most users mention that it caused a lot of difficulties when the project had to be shared on other operating systems. Furthermore, it’s worth mentioning that you have to own a good PC to run this tool successfully. That’s connected with the fact that Sketch can significantly slow down older devices because of high system requirements. Also, the platform is not on the free-based program list, so you will have to buy a license to use it.
Adobe XD is a tool that doesn’t compromise in any way with the already-mentioned products. This platform is great for creating vector-based prototyping drafts for your projects. The service provides a full stack of professional tools for great results, like 3D platforms or repeat greed. In addition, you can easily communicate and share your thoughts with your teammates during the project development.
This tool has a bunch of interesting features that will make it a clear favorite for UX prototyping. For example, Adobe XD allows you to add voice data to your project. As a result, it can significantly improve the testing of the MVP version and increase the effectiveness of handling the user’s experience. Another great advantage of the platform is the price since the service is available for $9.99 monthly.
All good platforms have their weak points; unfortunately, Adobe XD is not an exception. For example, the platform doesn’t allow collaboration in real time. Another weak point that many users noted is that Adobe XD currently doesn’t include any possibility to export or convert the project to other platforms.
This platform is a cloud-based tool for creating wireframes and prototyping UX. In Balsamiq, you can visualize all your ideas and see how they will look on the future website or application. This service is not as popular as the ones mentioned in our list, but it’s currently used by teams that value professionalism and reliability.
Balsamique is a tool that combines excellent quality with a reasonable price. For only $9 per month, you will be able to manage two projects and have full access to Balsamiq features that include: reusable components, interactive prototypes, and other UX components and tools that will make your prototyping as easy as possible. In addition, the app is available as a cloud-based version and as a desktop program for both Windows and iOS.
Some users have mentioned that the final results of the wireframes look simple because of the lack of instruments. Another significant con of the Balsamiq is that you will have to use another program as soon as you decide to move from the wireframe to the mockup stage.
Proto.io is a service that has been around since 2011. From that time on, it gained a significant amount of trust from designers worldwide because of its convenience and tools for creating a perfect UX prototype. In addition, it also offers some features for UI development, so you can kill two birds with one stone on this platform.
The first thing you should know about Proto.io is that it provides a free version of the platform. Of course, the free version will contain some of the service’s potential, but it will still be a great choice for designers with limited budgets. Furthermore, the platform allows you to create your first project immediately so that you will have your first sketch within a few hours.
Unfortunately, since the app doesn’t offer a full stack of features in the free version, you will have to consider a subscription purchase sooner or later. And as you already understand, the prices on Proto.io may not spare your wallet since the subscription fee starts at $29 for the most basic package.
UX prototyping is a critical stage in the development process of any successful product. Testing the UX prototypes can help the designer successfully indicate and solve all of the user’s pain before launching the final version of the product. For UX prototyping, designers have multiple prototyping tools UX and methods. Depending on the budget and investment time, companies can start with low-fidelity prototypes and paper and pen instruments and go to high-fidelity samples with more complicated tools involved.
It’s essential to use UX prototyping for indicating and fixing the typical bugs and issues that may occur during product use.
There are only two types of UX prototyping: high-fidelity prototypes, which represent the extended version of the app, and low-fidelity prototypes, which include only the app’s basic functionality.
You can rest assured that UX prototyping will not cost you more than a complete project starting from scratch, but it mostly depends on the whole project’s budget.
The choice of tool for UX prototyping is completely individual, and it depends on your needs. However, you will find a suitable platform in our list of the best tools since it contains only top-notch services that provide all the necessary tools for a successful UX prototype.
Discovering the digital world from a user’s perspective can be fascinating. Whenever you interact with a digital product, you’re exposed to two main design branches: user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). For those seeking to create finely crafted products, comprehending the fundamental principles of each design branch is necessary. Our article delves into distinguishing […]
It wasn’t that long ago that designers were merely responsible for “decorating the interface” at the end of the product development process. Over time, everything has changed. Design and software development are closely intertwined today, and this is true for any digital product, including SaaS. Creating a SaaS mobile or web application is a complex […]
A good User Experience (UX) design can boost your sales in geometric progression. According to the statistics, an easy-to-use SaaS application design can generate 400% more conversion. But if the platform is difficult to navigate, half of the visitors will leave it. For SaaS app owners, UX is a tremendous and topmost source of interaction […]
Let’s discuss your design challenges
Please leave your email so we can contact you
Stay in touch with digital design
Leave your email to receive regular updates to your inbox
Tell us a little more about your product so we can estimate it