An illustration representing software prototypingPrototyping is an excellent way to be sure that software will end up functioning as it was intended, but there are a number of common mistakes that companies are known to make. Fortunately, most of these are easy to avoid once you know about them. Here are some of the most common errors and what you can do about them.

Mistake #1: Doing Everything at Once

Some companies expect a prototype to be a fully featured piece of software… one that’s actually much closer to release than it needs to be. However, the best prototypes tend to focus on one particular goal they’re trying to accomplish — you don’t need to build an entire operating system just to figure out if you can program a brightness control.

For complex software, it helps to prototype individual components that can be gathered together later, with their rough edges smoothed off and fit into place. If something ends up not working out, it will be much easier (and more affordable) to replace just that component instead of creating an entirely new piece of software.

Mistake #2: Focusing on Form over Substance

This problem crops up when users focus on the way the prototype looks instead of the way it functions. A good prototype probably isn’t going to look that good — in fact, it’s not supposed to look good. A well- made prototype is a lot like a car before all the outside panels have been put in place — you can see all the insides and hidden components, and your main concern at that point is whether or not it functions well enough to put the covers on.

Everyone evaluating the prototype should be told that their goal is to determine how well it does its job, not how it looks. The user interface will come later.

Mistake #3: Limited Testing Environment

This happens more often than most developers want to admit. The software is often created on high- spec machines definitely capable of running them — but they might be used on older, weaker machines, and that’s the part that really matters.

Accordingly, make sure the developers have access to the kinds of machines the software will run on.

Mistake #4: Too Many Features

This is something of a combination of #1 and #2 — many companies want to try and add parts and features as fast as they can, but this often results in slowed development and wasted funds when the software inevitably needs to be changed. Extra components should only be added when the software is finalized enough to support this, and that’s usually fairly late in the process.

Rather than asking for every feature right away, keep a running list of things you’d like to be included and ask your developers about when the right time to add those will be.

Creating the perfect software for your needs takes real expertise — that’s why our team at Ethany is committed to doing things right the first time. If you need prototyping done, contact our expert team today.
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