Home Did you know ? How to Prototype a Mobile Application in 2021

How to Prototype a Mobile Application in 2021

by Mic Johnson

It is a commonly held belief that the best way to design a mobile application is by prototyping it with clay or paper before fully coding it. However, this method is not only time-consuming and only practical for simple prototypes, but the finished product may differ significantly from the prototype. 

The good news is that getting a prototype app to work is no longer a problem. Tools available today, such as frameworks, have made the process of prototyping much simpler. This white paper discusses how to create your mobile application with ease and speed, by attempting to demonstrate some technologies and tools now available. Of course, you can find a lot of advantages and disadvantages of prototyping model, but today it is the only effective method of developing a pre-design.

Many mobile application development tools and frameworks such as Appcelerator Titanium and PhoneGap allow seamless customization and allow you to create an application that fits your vision. These tools use the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript languages to insert in-app content in addition to providing access to device features not directly accessible through native languages.

 What is a Prototype?

A prototype is the first stage of the development process of a mobile app; it is created using software such as Framer JS, Balsamiq Rapid UI, or Paper Prototyping. In this process, you create a wireframe, which is a mock-up of the app’s UI and functionality. The wireframe shows all major components of your app, including storyboard interface layouts. This is a way to get a feel for the design of the app before coding it. However, it is limited in scope and can not show functionalities or share data between multiple screens.

What are different types of prototypes?

Wireframes (also called mockups) are used to plan out the flow and user experience of your product. Wireframes serve as visual guides to create the graphical user interface (GUI) for an app or website. They are static digital models of a mobile application or website that will help you to better understand the flow and how the app functions before you begin development. A wireframe doesn’t have any real functionality, it is a visual representation of what a final product might look like. They are typically rough high-level sketches – not detailed blueprints – and work in concert with other prototypes to make sure you have a clear idea of how your final product will look and function.

Wireframes allow developers to visualize the user experience before they start developing, thus preventing costly rework later on during development when features don’t work out as planned. It is often said that the end development cost of a wireframe is not in creating it, but in not creating it in the first place!

Paper prototypes are used when you want to quickly create a digital prototype in order to test or validate an idea. This type of prototype can be created on scrap paper and does not need special computer programming knowledge. They are typically rough and again work in concert with other prototypes to make sure you have a clear idea of how your final product will look and function. They allow you to show the concept of how an app will work by giving your audience a chance to interact with your interface ideas.

Tools for Fast and Easy Prototyping

Let’s take a look at some rapid prototyping tools that will allow you to develop an interactive prototype without the messy parts.

Frameworks: Frameworks such as Appcelerator Titanium and PhoneGap allow seamless customization and allow you to create an application that fits your vision. These tools use the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript languages to insert in-app content in addition to providing access to device features not directly accessible through native languages. Some frameworks are also designed with other languages in mind, such as Ruby or C++. The advantage of using a framework is that all the device functionality is pre-written for you, saving time required for the development. Frameworks also have a rich ecosystem of modules that can easily be integrated into your app.

Framework Types: There are a number of frameworks that you can choose from. The most popular ones are:

Appcelerator Titanium: An open-source framework from the company behind the Appcelerator Mobile Platform, an application development platform for iOS, Android, and JavaScript. Titanium is used to create cross-platform native applications with JavaScript and CSS for Windows Phone or Linux. It is able to access device hardware such as GPS, camera, and accelerometer directly from JavaScript code, which in turn increases the speed of app development significantly. Using its own proprietary runtime allows you to publish apps in all app stores without any code modifications or additional testing.

PhoneGap: A mobile application development framework that allows developers to build cross-platform applications for iOS and Android in JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS. PhoneGap is used to write native applications with JavaScript and HTML5 which can target both iOS and Android. The framework is used when creating hybrid apps that combine the best of web and native apps. PhoneGap allows you to access hardware such as camera, GPS, and accelerometer directly in your code, thus making the development process much faster compared to using a traditional hybrid app.

Balsamiq: Rapid UI is a rapid design tool for wireframing user interface designs in the browser, desktop or on mobile devices.

Benefits of Mobile App Prototyping

  1. User Experience: You can quickly and easily create a prototype and test it. This allows you to determine whether your app is meeting user expectations in terms of usability and design before spending development resources on the software itself. Once you have the final design, the prototypes can be shared with other resources such as the marketing team or investors, allowing them to see what you’re working on at any given moment in time.

 

  1. Communication: By creating a prototype, you can communicate much more clearly how something will work to your team or client. You may want to share this with stakeholders or users to solicit feedback before development begins; this is known as collaborative design.

 

  1. Cost: Prototyping can often produce a product for less than it would have cost to develop since you are able to test ideas before spending money on development.

 

  1. Time: You don’t have to wait for the software tools to be completed before testing out what the product will look like, as you can quickly create an interactive prototype with minimal design skills.

 

  1. Production Speed: A rapid prototype can reflect all the necessary information that you need about your software in order to know what your final product needs to include, saving time later on in development.

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