The Power of Prototyping
At Stellar, we believe in the power of prototyping when it comes to developing digital products and services. According to a study by the Nielsen Norman Group, addressing potential issues through prototyping early in the design process can save 50-80% of total project costs compared to fixing those issues post-launch. Think about that for a minute – you could cut costs in half (or better) simply by testing and refining your product before a full launch to your target audience. If that sounds a lot like common sense, you would be right. What might shock you, however, is how many brands ignore this.
Our rapid prototyping solution is designed to help you convert this common sense into significant savings, get to market faster and deliver a better, more successful user experience that drives adoption and usage with your target audience. Our prototyping approach is broken down into logical phases:
- Prototype Strategy – what approach works best for the unique needs of your business?
- Prototype Creation – what form should the prototype take?
- Prototype Testing – how will prototype testing inform and improve your final product?
Let’s take a look at how the Stellar team can guide you through the prototyping journey and help you and your team achieve your goals.
Developing the right strategic approach to prototyping your digital product or service is essential for successful outcomes. To be specific, creating this prototype strategy is centered on helping clients create clarity and internal organizational alignment before we start designing or building anything. A little bit of planning goes a long way.
During the prototype strategy stage, we focus on answering a series of key questions that will inform how we create and test the prototype:
- Define the Prototype Scope: What are the content, features and functionalities that will make or break the success of your digital product or service?
- Define the Business Goals: What are the business goals we want to achieve with the digital product or service?
- Determine Internal Alignment: How closely aligned are internal stakeholders when it comes to the vision, features and business goals of the digital product or service?
- Understand Organizational Constraints: How is your team organized, what is your organization’s decision-making cadence, and how do we make your corporate culture work for you rather than against you?
Once we’ve worked with clients to address the issues outlined above, we can create a detailed road map that defines our overall strategy and approach to prototyping your digital product or service, the scope of the prototype and how we will test it. Addressing issues #3 and #4 above are particularly critical because they help us fine-tune our approach to align with your organization’s unique needs.
Various options exist for prototyping digital products and services. These options range from low-fidelity paper prototypes, to full-blown HTML click-through prototypes that mimic the final product. The decision to choose one or the other depends on a variety of factors that include schedule, budget, available resources, what needs to be tested, how quickly we need to launch a final product and how confident we are that our product strategy is correct. Each option caters to different project needs, allowing teams to choose the most suitable method(s) based on the project’s goals and constraints.
Low-fidelity wireframes and simple UI sketches are quick and cost-effective, providing a basic visual representation of key elements of the product or service. These are excellent ways to quickly test and validate/refine the navigation, nomenclature and basic structure of the content and features. Higher fidelity, static page mock-ups, created using design software like Adobe Photoshop or Canva can be used to test branding, imagery, color palette and the overall visual vocabulary to ensure the basic design elements are well-received by the target audience.
Moving to the next level, interactive prototypes can be created using tools like Adobe XD or Figma. Interactive prototypes, sometimes called click-through prototypes, allow target users to interact with the product in realistic ways. These prototypes are great for testing process-driven digital products or services that require users to set up and manage an account, personalize content and features, or undertake other, more complex tasks as part of the product or service’s user experience. Finally, HTML-based prototypes that mimic a final product can be created and tested. These generally take more time to produce and more time to test but because we are testing a fully functional “near-final” product, we will have a much better understanding of which parts of your product or service are working well with target users, and which aren’t. Once the prototype is completed, we get to work on a test plan.
In our experience, the most effective way to test digital products or services involves task analysis. This method involves breaking down user interactions into specific tasks and meticulously examining each step to assess usability and efficiency. By observing users as they navigate through the prototype, Stellar’s UX team can identify potential hurdles, measure task completion times, and gain deeper insights into the user experience. Task analysis helps us refine the design by highlighting areas in need of improvement before a full market launch.
Task analysis also plays a pivotal role in optimizing the overall user journey. This approach ensures that the design not only meets functional requirements but also enhances the user’s ability to accomplish tasks effortlessly. By emphasizing the granular details of user interactions, task analysis contributes to the development of digital products and services that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also highly intuitive and user-centric.
How We Can Help
Our team’s deep experience and expertise with prototyping digital products and services enables us to help our clients in a variety of ways. Not sure where to even start the prototyping process? No problem, we can help you identify all of the mission-critical elements and work with your internal stakeholder team to build organizational alignment around the prototype strategy, creation and testing. We can help you determine which type of prototype (paper, static, interactive, HTML, etc.) would be most effective and efficient given your unique needs and where your team is on the prototype journey. Have a prototype initiative that’s underway but gotten difficult to manage? We can step in and help you create clarity and get the process moving again. Need to develop a test plan for your prototype? No problem there either, we can help you create and deliver user testing on any kind of prototype.
Ultimately, the best way to determine how we can help you is to chat. We’re ready to help whenever and however you need it.