Having a quality prototype is endlessly beneficial. You can use a prototype to mockup a new mobile app idea that you have. You can also develop a prototype in order to more thoroughly test a piece of software before it’s delivered in its end state. Additionally, prototypes can be used as a proof of concept, giving you a tangible way of getting customer buy-in.
In order to make prototyping as beneficial as possible, you’ll want to invest in quality prototyping software. You don’t want to limit your ability to effectively design and prototype by using the wrong tool that doesn’t offer all of the features and functionality that you need.
Here are 5 must have features that you’ll want the prototyping software you choose to have.
1. Integration with Standard File Formats & Programs
There’s nothing more frustrating (and time consuming!) than creating a file in one program only to find that the file extension isn’t supported by another program that you need to use. This requires you to convert the file to a new format, hoping that the format change doesn’t result in any data loss.
To save time and to prevent possible data loss, choose prototyping software that supports industry-standard file formats. For example if you routinely work in Adobe Suite, choose a tool that supports a wide variety of Adobe file formats such as .ai, .eps, .pdf, and others. This way you can easily move your prototype from program to program without the worry of data loss or even possible file corruption.
2. Frequently Updated UI Libraries
There’s nothing more powerful than a prototyping tool that offers frequently updated libraries. By choosing a tool with up-to-date libraries, you can ensure that you can develop a prototype that offers a consistent look and feel on the UI that you’re designing for.
Finding a tool that offers readymade UI sets will save you a lot of time, giving you the ability to really focus on designing a top notch prototype. The right prototyping tool will have you covered no matter which OS you’re developing on, so you never have to worry about font tweaks or updated navigation menus.
Powerful prototyping software can allow you to design a great looking product in just minutes. Or you can choose to work from scratch and put your design experience and knowledge to good use.
3. Version Control & Autosave
As a developer or designer you know the golden rule of “save early and often,” but wouldn’t it be nice if the tool you’re working in did that work for you? To make your daily life much easier, and to greatly minimize the risk of data loss, choose prototyping software that offers autosave. This way you never have to worry about shutting down for the day and wondering if you clicked the save button before logging out.
You’ll also want to find a tool that offers versioning. This way other members on the team will always see the latest version of the prototype. And if for some reason you need to revert back to an older version, you’ll also have that capability as well.
4. Collaboration Features
One of the best ways to make your prototype a true work of art is to allow other developers, designers, and project team members to provide feedback. Collaboration features are especially important if you’re working on a virtual team where members are dialing in remotely to look at and play around in the prototype.
Must-have collaboration features include:
- The ability to share (and control) who can access the prototype
- Online commentary
- Support for an endless number of testers
The more testing and collaboration that your prototype receives before actual development begins, the better!
5. Gesture Support
We live in a world where we interact with tablets, phones, and even watches by pressing buttons on a screen. Gone are the days of keyboards and clicking the “1” button three times to type the letter “C.”
This means the app or software that you’re developing should support such capabilities, which means the prototyping tool you choose should as well. Find a tool that supports UI elements that can be held, tapped, double tapped, or swept left or right.
Using a prototype tool that offers gestures support enables you to design a product that reacts to these kinds of inputs in a preset, predictable way. It also gives end users and testers the ability to thoroughly interact with the product, which opens the door collaboration and design changes.
There are all sorts of prototyping software tools on the market today. To make sure that you’re choosing a tool that will meet your prototyping needs now and long into the future, you’ll want to keep an eye out for these must have features. Happy building!