Why prototyping is good for you

Silicon Cape
06 Oct 2009

I’ve had lots of people ask me in recent weeks what I mean by prototyping online products and services. The argument, before I show them what I mean, is that project initiation documentation and good flow diagrams should be enough for eveyone involved to understand the final outcome of any online build. But flow diagrams are a part of prototyping and are essential in communicating the desired out come of an online project.

You see, in my view, all documentation surrounding a project constitute part of prototype development. Whether you are using a whiteboard, magnets and stickers or Visio – all these excercises help to gather information about what the end product should look, feel and behave like. For some projects a low-fidelity, paper based drawing of the interface with a detailed navigation map and user journey scope is enough to get people going. This works well for small teams working in close contact who work daily together to fulfill a development requirement.


If you fall into any of these categories then high-fidelity, interactive prototypes can prove invaluable.

1. Large, deep-level website development
2. Application development wth multiple interactions and decision making problems
3. Outsourcing development to a third party
4. Agency developing portals for companies with many stakeholders / decision makers
5. Software / web application development with multiple sources of information


Because high-fidelity prototypes provide all stakeholders with a flexible, interactive way of pre-measuring the implications of design and technical decisions before a line of code needs to be written.

Because decision makers are more likely to buy into an online product before it’s built if they can see and play with an interactive version.

Because guess work is illiminated from the development process.

Because content gaps can be identified, journey’s developed and decisions made on a more practical level.

Because now you can manage stakeholder expectations based on interactions and behaviour and not only on concept

And finally – because you can test your product with real users before you commit to build so you know if your journeys work or not.

Here is a prototype I built in 20 minutes (it’s basic and isn’t built on any product development premise) so the argument that building prototypes is time consuming and expensive no longer stands.

If your interested in learning more about prototyping and how it can fit into your development process, give me a shout at enquires@backspaceconsulting.co.za or call on +27 71 677 0274