Rapid Prototyping or Wireframes?

Posted by Davzo Inc

Posted in Business

prototype wireframe

The words ‘wireframe’ and ‘prototype’ are sometimes used interchangeably, but actually they refer to different things. Both wireframes and prototypes can be useful tools for mobile iOS app developers as they can convey the design and user experience of the app to clients, who can then provide feedback. But prototypes are more advanced than wireframes, and they can create a more interactive representation of the user experience. In this post we will have a deeper look at both prototypes and wireframes, to fully understand the differences between them, as well as their benefits.

Understanding Wireframes

A wireframe is a basic visual illustration of an app’s user interface, showing how all the different design elements, including menus, buttons, or tabs combine to form the interface. Wireframes are generally created at the beginning of the app development phase. While usually focusing on the broader design elements, omitting the details, wireframes can nevertheless be an effective way to visualize an app concept before the developers actually start working on the code. A wireframe displays the structure of the information the app presents, the different groups of content, as well as a basic visualization of the app. It answers the what, where, and how questions about the app’s interface. Wireframes are essentially blueprints of the app, providing the essential documentations necessary to build the app.

Mobile iOS app developers use wireframes to present to their customers a version of the user interface that is scaled down to the screen size of the device for which the app is built. After viewing the wireframes, clients can provide feedback on the app design which can then be incorporated by the app developer into the development phase. Wireframes also serve as an essential design outline that the graphic design and development team can follow to get started with their work.

Benefits of Wireframes

Wireframes are often drawn, either by hand or with the assistance of computer software. This makes them easy to create, modify, and redesign. Feedback can easily be incorporated into them, whether it refers to the placement of the button or to the whole layout of the interface. And because wireframes can be easily coverted into PDF documents and viewed directly on the target device for which the app is being built, they are inexpensive to produce. On the other hand, wireframes are not really interactive. They are essentially a collection of static representations or images. They can capture the overall feel of the app, but they cannot reproduce the user flow that a user would experience trying the app. That’s where prototypes come in.

Understanding Prototypes

A prototype combines graphics and text to create an interactive representation of the app, providing users with a more accurate user interface experience than a wireframe. Prototypes are created with specialized software or online-based tools such as InVision or Pixate and provide lifelike interactions for users, who can navigate them and explore them like they would the original app.

Prototypes may also include collaborative features, allowing both development team members and clients to leave comments and feedback right into the prototype, to simplify communication and keep all comments in one place. Custom hotspots can be integrated within the prototype in key areas such as the menu, buttons, icons, and other design elements to encourage contextual feedback. It’s even possible for prototypes to incorporate guided tours narrated by developers, who can digitally walk clients through the app’s user experience.

Advanced prototypes may go so far as to recreate certain app features. With rapid prototyping, however, the envisioned app design is usually presented with a medium rather than high fidelity, providing more details than a wireframe but fewer than an advanced prototype, offering users an essential interactive interface experience while keeping development costs low. Rapid prototyping can be built from static wireframes and enriched with essential HTML, CSS, or JavaScript-based interactions.

Benefits of Rapid Prototyping

When it comes to prototypes, the key word is interactivity – prototypes are perfect for interactive user testing. A well-made prototype successfully simulates user interface interaction, giving users a good idea about how the app that is being developed will behave. Prototypes are important because they give users a pretty good idea about what to expect from an app. That said, they require more work than wireframes, and may also increase development costs. Rapid prototyping can strike a good balance between cost and value, showcasing interactivity without significantly increasing development costs.

So Which Is Best For Your App?

Because it showcases interactivity, rapid prototyping definitely has an advantage over wireframes, and money invested in it is money well spent. However, there are a couple of other factors you must take into account, such as the type of app you are building, the complexity of the user interface, or the number of different design elements that are being fused together.

A very basic app may not need a prototype at all, since it has few design elements, but a more advanced app with multiple features, such as an e-commerce app, a navigation app, or a game, can greatly benefit from one. Wireframes can evolve into prototypes, so you can start with a wireframe and only after do a prototype. But when testing the interactivity of the design is one of the priorities, starting from the beginning with a rapid prototype can be in many cases the quickest and most cost-effective approach to building a great app.

While wireframes are like blueprints that lay out the foundation of the app, they are no more than sketches and drawings. Prototypes are clickable and interactive. Trying a prototype is like actually trying a striped-down version of the app. When choosing to work with a mobile iOS app development company, it’s important to ensure that they don’t limit themselves to wireframes but can provide rapid prototyping if necessary. Rapid prototyping is more comprehensive than simple wireframing, and because of its interface interactivity can prove to be a valuable tool in the app development process, helping you build a more user-friendly and engaging app. As an experienced iOS app development company, we fully understand the value of rapid prototyping and can use it to develop better apps.

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