With so many different prototyping options available, it can be difficult to narrow down one that fits your team’s needs. Whether you’re looking to test out the function of your design, or simply see what it will look like before you deliver it, a prototype can be one of the last and most exciting steps of the design process. Having a great prototype depends on the software, so we’ve put together some information on how to choose the best prototype software for you.
What’s the Learning Curve?
New software can present significant challenges, especially if the software comes with a steep learning curve. This can make it difficult for the team (or you) to learn how to effectively use the software, creating further issues and pushing your project even further back.
It’s helpful to download a demo of the software you plan to use, or even look up a review on YouTube. YouTube is an excellent tool for getting the feel of new software, and there are literally thousands of tech review channels on the platform, so you’re sure to find a review for your particular software.
Once you’ve identified the learning curve of the software you want, you can compare it to similar options and decide which is best for you and your team. You may find that while the software you originally wanted didn’t have a huge learning curve, other software performs exactly the same but is easier to use.
What’s it Cost?
Prototype software will usually come with a price tag, and it’s important to compare different brands before making a final decision on which one you’ll use. The cost of prototype software usually comes in subscription form (monthly or yearly) or a one-time purchase price. A lot of design tools, especially ones with cloud-based storage and sharing tools, will be priced via subscription.
It’s easy to be swayed by attractive extra features, or “bells and whistles”. These are definitely assets to the software itself, but shouldn’t be the deciding factor on whether or not you make your purchase. Be sure the software performs the default task you’re purchasing it for; features and extras come second. The last thing you’ll want to do is purchase software that’s all glitz and glamor, only to find it was niche software designed for one specific purpose, or that the extra features were simply hiding the ineffectiveness of the software itself.
Compatibility and Integration
Your design team will likely be using many different tools and software for the development process. It’s important when searching for prototype software to keep in mind that its compatibility and easy integration with your own software is a vital component to making your final decision.
You’ll want to choose software that can integrate easily with other software, especially when you’re creating wireframes before the prototyping phase. Having prototyping software that can work directly with files from your other design software will help streamline the design process and make transfers easy and stress-free.
Sharing and Collaboration Tools
Collaborating with your team is essential to successful designs, not to mention including your clients in the design process for feedback and edits. Ensuring your prototyping software allows for easy collaboration (preferably real-time collab tools), will help your project not only flow better but increase communication among team members.
Every designer will have their own perspective and ideas, but it’s important that everyone stays on the same page so the design process can continue on time. Collaborative tools should be one of your top concerns when choosing prototype software.
High or Low Fidelity?
You’ll want to also consider what your prototype should do, and whether or not you require high-fidelity mockups or low-fidelity ones that simply show the features of the website or app/software. If you need something you can interact and experiment with, you need a high-fidelity tool that can support such details. For basic prototypes, you’ll want a low-fidelity tool.
Ideally, your prototype tool will be able to support both low and high-fidelity prototypes, giving you the tools to experiment with your software and show off its aesthetics. With high-fidelity prototypes, you’ll be able to get a good idea of how the project will function before releasing the final product.
Prototyping is an essential part of your design process. Without a good working prototype, you won’t understand the functionality of your design before you release it, which could end up costing time and money down the road.
Cloud-Based Storage and Sharing
Cloud-based storage makes sharing and collaboration, as well as securely storing files simple. The best prototype tools are cloud-based, allowing for seamless storage. You won’t have to worry about downloading large files, or participating in email chains to get the latest updates.
With cloud-based software, you can access files and projects from anywhere in the world. This is especially useful for those teams who work remotely, and in combination with team management software, can make your projects incredibly efficient.
Choosing the right prototype software doesn’t have to be a challenge. If you follow these simple tips, you’ll be able to account for all of your needs and choose the best software for you and your team. Be sure to account for cost, ease of use, and the learning curve most of all, as these will determine whether or not you choose a different brand of prototype software.