A prototype is a simplified model of something yet to be created and is used for testing and learning about the final product. In web design, a prototype is a simplified version of a web application, such as a website. A web design prototype mimics the basic interactions possible within a designed interface, such as navigating between pages, interacting with designs using a browser, or locating and clicking on calls to action.
Prototyping tools, such as InVision and Marvel, have greatly improved the usability of web design prototypes. These tools not only allow prototypes to be quickly created, but also facilitate the sharing feedback about a prototype.
Below we share four benefits of using web design prototyping tools.
Identify issues in the early stages of design. Web design prototypes allow the logic and usability of web designs to be tested long before a web application is completed and launched. For example, users can click through actual design workflows (i.e. navigating from the Homepage to the Contact Us page and submitting a form) and potentially discover flaws that could be overlooked during a review of static designs.
Glean concrete feedback and incorporate changes iteratively. Prototyping tools often come with features that allow easy an exchange of concrete feedback that can be quickly integrated into the design process. Instead of relying on hypothetical and often arbitrary feedback from a review of static designs, prototyping tools allows web designs to be quickly tested in an interactive environment, changed, and then tested again.
Build trust through successful collaboration. Prototyping tools not only provide features to build and use a prototype, but also a framework within to collaborate and build trust in the design process. Designers, developers, and clients can interact with a prototype in the same environment, replicate each other’s feedback, and provide solutions that can, themselves, be tested and verified to work.
Stakeholder involvement and satisfaction. Involving project stakeholders in the design process is essential to effectively moving the project toward a satisfactory result. Prototyping tools grant participants a greater sense of project engagement, understanding, and commitment by providing an easy and intuitive way to participate in the process.
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