Everything Entrepreneurs Need to Know About Prototypes Before App Development

We’re often asked how our Vancouver clients can optimize the development (and cost) of creating a custom app. The answer we usually give first is to develop a prototype of the app before you go into full development. Prototypes are created after the initial brainstorming and idea-gathering stage. It puts all your ideas into an app prototype so you can see how they stand up to reality. 

In this article, we’ll discuss everything entrepreneurs need to know about creating app prototypes before beginning full development on their app. 

What are app prototypes?

Before investing time and money into creating an entire app or software program, you’ll create an app prototype. Think of it like a scaled-down or simplified version of what you want the end product to look like. 

These mock-ups look and feel like the actual app but don’t contain any fully working code. However, it’s detailed enough to look at the flow and the user experience and design to ensure it meets your (and your end-user’s) expectations. 

Prototypes can be as simple or advanced as you wish. They may include clickable or interactive elements or be non-interactive (a series of storyboard-style images to represent each screen in the app). 

Benefits of prototypes?

We recommend prototyping for all client projects. Here’s why:

Helps clarify your vision

You’re likely writing down many ideas during your idea and brainstorming phase without considering their practical implications. That’s OK! The first stage of app development is brainstorming and forming your requirements and deliverables list. Once that has been brainstormed, you break down which you want to be included in the final app. 

You may know what you want to see but need to visualize it fully to see if it’s feasible and creates the great user experience you want. And, you want to ensure that your ideas contribute to solving the users’ problems (aka the goal for the app). 

Seeing your ideas in the prototype can help you clarify your vision and see which ideas work in practice so you can tweak your app development requirements and inclusions before beginning costly and time-consuming development.

Faster iterations

Prototypes help you clarify your vision for yourself and your development team. It helps you see that the developers understand your vision and the requirements before full development begins. Then, armed with a detailed and approved scope of work, they can begin development right away, without the need for too many extra testing phases of development. 

Changes are far easier (and cheaper) to make to a prototype than embedded code (due to the complexities and potential co-dependent pieces of code (where changing one line of code affects multiple aspects of the app). 

Tests functionality and flow

Are you a visual learner? Sometimes, we need to see something before we know if it’s the right solution. With a prototype, you can see your ideas come to life and see if they create the functionality, flow, and user experience you envisioned. 

It’s a great time to optimize these features before full development begins. Seeing the app “in action” through a prototype helps you tweak the app early in the development process. This is the time when making changes are faster, easier, and therefore less expensive. 

Low risk (saves time and money)

Imagine investing tens of thousands of dollars into an app, only to find it doesn’t work as expected at the 11th hour. Prototypes help you prevent this costly scenario. Prototypes are a low-cost way to test your app idea to ensure it’s viable for full development before investing time and money into an entire app. 

You also save time when you can make changes early in the process (during prototyping), as changes are easier to make before they’re coded. 

Can be used to show investors

If you’re seeking investors for your app project, you can show them your prototype so they can see what they’re investing in. If you already have investors and other stakeholders, you can show them the prototype so they can see your progress and weigh in on any changes early. 

How to create your first app prototype

When working with Twelfth Dream to develop your app, prototyping is the second step of the app development process. It follows the Discover phase, where we collect your ideas, followed by Coding, Testing, and Deployment of the final app.

If you want to develop your prototype, we have a unique workshop for you. Check out Twelfth Dream’s “Idea to Prototype” Workshop to learn everything you need to know about app prototype development. By the end of this one-on-one workshop, you’ll have planned and created a prototype for your app. 

With your Twelfth Dream app developer, you’ll learn how to create a use case for your app through the Research phase. You’ll also learn how to:

  • Hand-sketch your ideas
  • Create a low-fidelity prototype (wireframes)
  • Create a high-fidelity prototype
  • Make your prototype interactive

The course includes four tests to evaluate your learning and application of the course materials. You get 32 hours of teaching and should expect to spend at least 48 (or more) hours on your development and coursework. You can spend more time applying your skills if you wish. 

Are you ready to take the first step to make your dream app a reality? Learn more about this program and apply today.

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