two people going over prototype plans on paper and phone.
Prototyping is one of the earliest stages of software development — and if you’re trying to create high-quality software, it’s also one of the most important. Here’s why.

1. Prototypes Help Transmit Intent

Programs aren’t always developed by just one or two people. By creating a prototype, the people involved at the earliest stages can better convey their vision for the software and what it’s actually intended to do — and this works better than just describing it through notes.

There’s no guarantee that any of the prototype code will actually be used in the final product; but even if it isn’t, it forms a solid base on which to design and code the software you’re actually going to use. The last thing you want is for your desires to be lost in translation. 

2. Prototypes Allow for More Customer Involvement

They also allow for that interaction to happen earlier in the design process, when it’s easier to make changes to the software. It’s not uncommon for buyers to ask for one thing, only to realize later on that what they asked for doesn’t work as well in practice as they expected it to… and it’s better for everyone if such problems are found early on.

At the same time, prototypes are a good mechanism for explaining what’s technically feasible with the software — and once people know what it can do, they can turn their attention to what they want it to do.

3. Prototypes Provide Users Proper Clarity of Feel for the Software’s Functionality

Related to #2, prototypes serve as a good chance for users to get a feel for what kind of functionality the software will provide once it’s done. Now, at this stage, even the basic functions are far from complete — chances are the software won’t be doing anything more than the simplest tasks. However, that’s still enough to get a good sense of how it’s going to behave when it’s actually done.

For example, most email programs today offer functions like searching inboxes, marking certain messages as important, and filtering out spam. A prototype may not actually have a search function, but it could have one specific command that shows what a search would look like. When you can repeat this for all of the basic functions of a software — whatever those might be — users can get a much better sense for the end product and pinpoint anything they don’t like about it. Without prototyping, the software could end up feeling wrong to the users — and that doesn’t help productivity.

Ultimately, no piece of software should be developed without prototyping. This is the experimentation phase, when things are allowed to go wrong — and the end result is software that’s much better at getting the job done. Contact ETHANY today for more information about getting a prototype for the software you want your company to have.

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