The process of user experience design for any mobile application is a very responsible stage on the way to the final product, which will satisfy the user. In our previous articles we have already mentioned that UX process is the basis for successful UI as it develops the whole logic of the application, makes possible to think over the efficient transitions and layout as well as consider all the ways to make user experience as positive as possible.
The important way to check out and test all the solutions made on the stage of UX design is prototyping. Here in Tubik Studio we are keen to try different tools of prototyping to test the efficiency of UX. Earlier we promised to share our experience of work on prototypes and discuss the benefits of different tools in more detail. So, this post is going to be the first in the set and this time we would like to consider main benefits of prototyping and tell you about the tool for this aim called Pixate.
The essence and role of prototyping
The original concept behind the term ‘prototype’ is the sample model of the product that gives the ability to test it and see if the solutions and decisions made about the product are efficient. Prototypes should not be seen as the analogue of the final product as they aren’t those. Their main aim is to enable a designer, a customer and a user to check the correctness and appropriateness of the design solutions.
The value of prototypes in the sphere of app and webdesign has rocketed for the last few years. Actually, it is easy to explain as even the low-fidelity prototype gets the designer, customer and tester much closer to the looks and functions of the future product than the most elaborate schemes, drawings and wireframes. Certainly, that doesn’t mean that schemes and wireframes could be eliminated from the process as they are essential in the process of creating design solutions. However, when you want to feel their efficiency and check if nothing has been missed in the design process, prototype will be the great help.
Tubik Studio motion designer Kirill, having extensive experience of work with prototypes, defines them as the step of vital importance in the process of creating successful UX. Considering the fact that a lot of customers see the prototype as something very close to the final version of product design aka “UI in action”, he says that in practice this approach is not effective. Prototyping is much more efficient and useful as the step between UX design and UI design. So the workflow should have such a sequence: UX – prototype – UI.
The prototypes on UI stage are created more for presentation of application general looks than for testing and improving its functional features. And this is the trap in which it is easier to be confused. Prototyping all the details on the final stage of UI in most cases is not so reasonable as it could seem. It will be too time-consuming and in this perspective, it would be better to spend the same time on coding a demo-version. Moreover, usability should be thoroughly checked first of all at the UX stage, otherwise it would be much harder to change inefficient solution after having accomplished a lot of work on UI. Certainly, it would be amazing to create prototypes both for UX and UI, but by far not all the designers and customers agree to spend so much time on design tasks and want to test and improve the design much faster and cheaper.
The first and most important role of prototype is to check and test the functionality rather than the beauty and appearance of the product. Practice shows that testing UX with prototype enables to make the stage of UI design less time and effort consuming. It’s easy to ground: if you test UX solutions with prototype, you are able to reveal and fix the basic bugs and problems before you start working on UI tasks. If you don’t, the risk to devote a lot of time to UI design which will be not so efficient and so will have to be changed is much higher. Redesign of the complete UI is more difficult and long process than testing the design at UX stage with a simple prototype.
Prototyping lets the designer to check UX solutions with the experience close to real use
The simplest prototypes have been the paper ones and even they are highly efficient in understanding the main concept of layout elements and transitions. Nowadays, the variety of different tools and services for digital prototypes is incredible and gives designers the opportunity to choose those, which are more appropriate for their work and task. They really improve matters in the process of design, especially in the sphere of app design as the modern tools of prototyping create the prototypes very close to native apps and therefore user experience can be tested deeper and closer to reality.
A bit of practice: Pixate
Pixate is one of the various modern tools creating prototypes for mobile applications.
It provides the wide range of functions to create efficient prototypes, which are animated and look very close to the native apps. Pixate was one of the pioneers adding native animation to make prototypes more efficient.
Pixate has a clear and simple functional scheme and layout that doesn’t require a lot of time and effort from the designer to study how to create a prototype. This is a very important trait for such a tool as most designers highly appreciate any opportunity to save their time when possible and use the tools which are clear, intuitive, fast and highly efficient.
Pixate can also be described as a flexible tool whose features provide various opportunities to present the content in the created prototype. Moreover, Pixate allows separating layers and embedding interactions such as Tap, Double Tap, Drag, Scroll, Pinch and others. No need to say, how happy the designer can be to use all this things creating the prototype close to real product.
As the functional potential of the tool is very close to real app appearance in presentation of UX solutions, it makes the process of testing UX quick and easy. You can intitally customize the prototype to your target device.
It is not a secret that in UX design process attention to details and thinking-out the ideas to make operation of the app easy and pleasant for the user are essential. Prototype made with Pixate on this stage gives the chance of testing all the elements of layout and the process of screen transitions. Sometimes the smallest details which are missed in the general scheme of app design cannot be revealed from the wireframes easily, but are easily seen in the process of testing the prototype. So, prototype provides the prompts to the designer and allows feeling the real experience of transitions, using buttons, understanding the propriety of all the elements placement in the layout and the role of every element in real experience.
The benefits of prototyping
Summing up, by example of work with Pixate, we can conclude upon the basic benefits of prototypes.
Benefits for designers:
- Clear and intuitive tool, not requiring much time and effort to study how to use
- Flexible in the ways and methods of content presentation in the prototype
- Contains customized animation and provides the prototypes which feel and look as native apps
- Efficient in testing UX solutions and sharing it for testing with the customer or tester
Benefits for customers:
- Simple and intuitive features of the tool make easy to understand how to use the prototype
- It doesn’t require any specific knowledge or skills to test the prototype
- It doesn’t need special devices or technical characteristics of the devices on which the prototype can be used
- It provides high level of feeling the real experience as the prototypes looks and feels very close to real app.
All the mentioned features are highly valuable especially for the customers who are non-designers and have never had experience of working with wireframes and understanding UX-schemes and flows.
In our next articles we will share the practical workshop on all the flow of prototype creation and also will tell you about other efficient tools helping designers to improve their work and make both customers and users happy.
Originally written for tubikstudio.com
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