Advantage of Iterative Prototyping in the Mobile App Development
Developing a magnetic and second to none mobile app is not easy. It takes a lot of time & efforts learning and experiencing the ways to come up with a fully-fledged website that can return the favor of making it such a hit. But, the number of hours spent on the development of a successful mobile application is none of the concerns of the user.
They are busy busting their mobile battery, making their own lives better. Although, the fast-growing mobile industry is soon to step into something more practical and intriguing, which is surely not related to this topic, so, you must also read about the Technological Advancements: Mobile Apps to Chatbots.
App developers need to focus on plenty of minute details such as operating systems, devices, the size of the screen, etc., and that too, at the designing stage as well as in the testing phase. Besides, they need to decide the type of the mobile app, either it can be a native or cross-platform. Considering all the factors like target audience, market size, etc., they make a decision. Repetitions of such small yet important steps have led to the formation of a repetitive development process.
A major role is played by the prototypes as they allow the developers to build an ultimate website with the fewest number of bugs as they enable high-end testing. It also enables stakeholders to buy out early in the process. In the mobile app design process, developing a prototype is a vital and advantageous step. Below are the 12 steps of mobile app development process:
1. Defining Motives and Uniqueness
There are some basic questions that are needed to be answered before entering the business line. One such question is- what is the niche? Before knowing what are you up to, you cannot even put the first step down. So, first answer what is going to be the prime function of your app? How will it serve to the people? Who will be your target audience?
In the quest of answering to such questions, you might stumble upon some points that are going to give the uniqueness you require to develop a successful mobile app. Those points will be the reason; you are going to achieve the first targets of your business and create followers and brand loyalty for the application. For example, Spotify offers access to numerous songs with legal take-anywhere access, which makes it a second to none music application. Probably, at initial stages, they might have encountered with some illegal or unpaid downloading issues, which led to such solution of the problem.
Finding uniqueness is easy, if your analysis is strong and you have quality target audience. You just need to pick the ideal clients and analyze their likes and dislikes. Focus groups and forms will enable you to create user profiles, and that needs to be uploaded with mobile preferences and user behaviors.
Once you have found all the answers to these questions, you will be able to form an MVP (minimum viable product), a base which will help you develop a proper and effective mobile app.
2. Designing Blueprint With the Team
After the first step, you might feel like kick starting the designing part of the application. But, if you want to create something worth spending time on, then you must wait for it and instead go for paper wireframing. This will help you make easy alterations to your design, and the changes will be done faster and effortlessly.
Draw a prototype on a rough paper to envisage the main user flows and key functionality. Although, sketching a prototype generally helps in mapping single UIs, but if done properly, you can also devise the journey and navigation flows of the visitors with its help. Keeping the basics in mind, use stickers and sharpies for mapping the application, or you can use the wide range of templates and tools for creating a large portion of the paper wireframe stage. You can also apply cut-outs of icons and buttons from the numerous templates present online, to derive a presentable paper prototype to your potential or prospective investors.
For the development of certain operating system, UI Stencil is a perfect tool that can help you with widgets in your wireframe on both the OS, i.e., Android and iOS. Besides, it's time to bring up all the team members you require on the project; then you can work on digitalizing and wireframing of the application in a prototyping tool.
3. Study the Files of the Competitors and Try Not to Repeat Their Mistakes
There are millions of apps available on the stores, which means, there is a high probability that someone is also working or has worked on the similar application like yours. Therefore, go through their case study and find out about the problems and challenges they fought, along with noticing their achievements. Your research will help you get better in the following areas:
- Number of similar apps or competitors
- Vault of inspiration
- Analyzing technical requirements, features, and functionality
- Beneficial in extracting profitability and marketability
On the app stores, look for similar apps and pen down the names of the apps as well as go through the review section to know the opinions of the people.
If you find something special in those apps, find whether or not it has open source control. It can be done by going to the apps acknowledgment page, where you will get the open source components used by that application. Furthermore, you can improvise to provide a more alluring user experience. Cocoa Controls is an open source marketplace that can be used to find out your competitor's open source codes.
Another possibility of this research is that you can find out an application which has already provided all the features and functions you were thinking to offer. Next, you need to analyze its market reach and brand value, which can be done with the help of some free tool.
You also need to state the plus points of your product which are not available with the current app or the least you can do is- present a concrete risk mitigation strategy. If unable to do so, it's time to shut down the process and head on to the next mobile app development project. Do not lose hope if you stop the development process; you just learned a very big lesson with it, and you will perform much better next time.
4. Story Mapping & Finding Resources
Now there are two ways you can carry out the operation- either you can stick to the papers or you can go digital. Staying on papers will give you a much broader approach to look at things as you can use your utmost creativity for story mapping before doing all digital.
On the other hand, mapping stories in the old-school manner can go wrong sometimes, most probably when your teammates are mobile or you aspire for a highly dynamic storyboard which remains active and connected throughout the whole process. FeatureMap and StoriesOnBoard are suggested by us, if you are planning to opt digitalization with user stories as you can avail browser-based solutions, enabling you to connect with various teams.
These tools can also turn into hurdles, if you are moving along with an agile methodology, especially in the case of reporting. Therefore, utilizing an interactive prototyping tool can be a great move. Initially, wireframing a prototype with the help of InVision, Axure or Justinmind can help you obtain visually fresh and happening essentials from stakeholders, and ensure they are tied in a bound.
This stage gives you an opportunity to envision the solutions required for the problems that came up in the first step, and accumulation of the requirements within the prototyping tool eliminates the requirement of documents having strong explanations.
5. User Scenario
With the help of the wireframe, you can see whether the app is functioning in the required manner or not. The prototyping tools also enable you to state the navigation flow by generating and scrutinizing user scenarios developed on your wireframe screens and functions as a user.
The scenario can have several components interlinked with each other and can convert map navigational flows into functional flows by upping the wireframe to high fidelity prototype.
Now, it's time to collect the pieces of the puzzle, i.e., reporting workflows to stakeholders, fulfilling the project requirements, and carrying out each & every field for discussion. The most effective thing is to ask the clients or the stakeholders about what they feel or think about some particular elements and their functionality. Moreover, it gets even better if you bring out all the scenarios where you can find yourself a mess and may need a genuine advice or require resources.
A smart thing you can do is- provide the prototyping tool with the comments section, which will help you get all the suggestions and other inputs from all the stakeholders altogether. You can individually see to each comment and improve the information accordingly.
6. Keep Adding to the List of Requirements
It's no big deal missing out on some basic element such as a screen, failing with the navigation flow or being unsuccessful in fulfilling a requirement. But, make sure to fix this problem at this point of the development process as your whole work can go in vain while you sit aside watching a developer writing codes for your app. Customize your requirements from within the prototyping tool by adding new fields individually.
7. Forge the Prototype with Stakeholders' Suggestions
The moment you are done with alterations and fulfilling the requirements, initiate the process of converting the model to a highly functional prototype. Demonstrate potential interactions by introducing realistic animations & transitions to the current wireframe, then test the scenarios which were once hypothesized.
Skipping coding and moving directly to interactive will offer less chance of interpretation to both the designing and the development team.
8. Scrutinizing Prototype on Multiple Platforms
To develop a fine mobile app, it is very necessary to run some tests, which helps you discover minor or major bugs and other elements that could have been repeated in the phase of designing. The major advantage of user testing is that it disables the project to go out of the budget, especially when performing minor alterations to the UI concepts is not very costly. What is expensive is revamping the whole coded feature, wherein the expenditure can rise to 100% as the structure is rebuilt from scratch.
There are many ways to perform user-testing. Besides, with the choice of the most suitable combination as per your software, your process can be carried out more effectively. You can simply bring in software like Crazy Egg and Validately, which will eliminate the requirement of setting a testing lab inclusive of hardware and target audience as it comes with pre-installed other prototyping tools. Utilizing these tools along with the A/B tests or any other methods, on almost all the platforms with the prototype will lead to the accumulation of encyclopedic user feedback.
Remember, early phase testing on prototypes are most effective when the motive is to cut down the cost, while on the original coded software, the testing must not be delayed under any circumstances. This is the phase you can take a break from the prototype and bring in the developers to work on the ideas you have. You can never fully understand how users interact with the real software, while repeatedly checking the coded software will provide you with agility.
9. Confirm Requirements
Before you start coding, this phase offers you to tick down the boxes of the final rules with the help of the repeating prototype. Project with the utilization of static requirements demands a comprehensive document review. The prototype can be submitted along with the solutions proposed & all the shareholders, while alterations must be done as per the comments left in the prototyping tool.
10. Start With the Foundation
By this moment, you should have a clearly defined mobile app so that you can ask your developers to advance the preparations for a quick development run. To start iterating, the foundation must comprise of servers & storage and APIs set up by the developers along with the prototypes and requirements, strengthening the base.
11. UI Skins & Cycle Feedback
After all the necessary modifications done considering the comments from user testing and stakeholders, developers are now open to transfer the prototype screens plus interactions into highly trusted skins. Backend services, such as Kinvey, can be offered to the developers which will boost their front-end process with the SDK tools viz. Adobe PhoneGap. It is time to turn the focus of the operation to data storage & integration, versioning and server side logic. Prototype screens are difficult to code when it comes to UI.
The main motive behind the operation is to incorporate all the accumulated user feedback and come up with an app that is technically strong and meets user-centric perspective. The team must be flexible, have fast response time, ready to perform quick changes, iterative approach, and worthy customer collaboration. Scrum sprints can be used to organize the teams in order to achieve the development ideals. However, Scrum can be a little disaster due to its own issues.
12. User Testing
The phase has come when your application needs to be fully coded and must be ready with the original content and fine UI elements. Now, it's the final user testing on all the devices with a wider range of users. However, if you lack funds to organize such testing stage, then go for AtryBox, which is a “user marketplace” that helps you with user groups and testing. Besides, you can also use Framer or Validately. There are many other options to complete the process which includes from triading to drunk testing.
Ajay Seth, founder of SyonInfomedia - Mobile App development company says, “Mobile App development has become a part of my life. My expert team of mobile app developers have been performing Iterative Prototyping from quite a long time now which has enabled us to deliver the most complicated projects with sheer excellence and pride. It has given a new meaning to our work.”
The Next Step
Iterative Prototyping is the best thing happened to the mobile app development industry. From the core of the users and their stories to the tools involved in the front or back-end development and the final phase of user testing, every individual development project goes via some gateposts on the road to realization and launch.
Although the points above will help you come up with a better arrangement of your tasks and your outcomes, every mobile development project is unique.
Therefore, you need to use the tools and methods that make your team reactive and proactive, creative and collaborative, so that you are able to develop apps that satisfy the requirements of the users and present them with fine UX.