August 24, 2020

The Critical Role of Prototyping in Software Application Development

Companies often start working on vague ideas and spend months and years developing an application, only to know that it is not serving any purpose or does not function as expected.

All the effort, money, and time they put into developing the software application goes in vain.

Such situations can be avoided if companies prepare a software prototype first.

A software prototype is about creating a working model of software so that the product owners can evaluate it and offer feedback to developers for further improvement. It also gives developers a fresh perspective on features that they may not have considered but are worth developing for user’s benefit. The main objective of a software prototype is to make the application as user-friendly as possible.

There are different types of software prototyping.

  • Rapid prototyping: Developers quickly create a working model to show the users how the application will look like and later discard it after receiving feedback from users.
  • Evolutionary prototyping: Developers build a basic prototype, which forms the foundation for their future prototypes.
  • Incremental prototyping: It refers to building multiple prototypes and integrating them to form a complete design.
  • Extreme prototyping: Extreme prototyping happens in three phases. In phase 1, there is a static prototype that consists of HTML pages. In the second, the screens are programmed using a simulated services layer. In the third phase, the services are implemented. It is done for developing web applications. 

The Critical Role of Prototyping In Software Application Development

Increases investor’s interest

Gone are those days when entrepreneurs can demonstrate their ideas on a presentation to the investors. The investors are more interested in seeing how the application will work and if it will meet customer needs. A prototype gives investors a concrete idea about how an application will work, its strengths and weaknesses, the associated risks and its growth potential. It will help them to make an informed decision about investing in it. As David S Rose, an active venture capitalist, mentions, “Delivering a prototype, close to a working MVP increases your chances of securing that all-important seed investment.

Reduces development cost

Companies often assume that developing a prototype is a waste of money. On the contrary, prototypes can help them to reduce the development cost. A prototype enables developers to understand user requirements and build a software application precisely based on those. Without a prototype, the developers will be left in a lurk as they will be developing an application that might not be relevant to the user and spend time reworking on it, which could escalate the entire cost of development. Hence, it is always advisable to spend time developing prototypes rather than spending time reworking on the actual application.

Improves user experience

The best part about prototyping is that developers, product owners, and end users can get deeply involved in the complete process – from ideation to implementation. Product owners have a better idea of the challenges they face. They can offer precise feedback to developers on how to improve the product. Prototype removes all guesswork and helps developers understand what the end-users want. Their feedback enables developers to make iterations to the prototype and improve the outcome of the application. It also gives users satisfaction that the application has been developed according to their expectations and leads to higher user acquisition, retention, and loyalty. 

Accelerates the pace of development

Prototyping and agile methodology work on the principle of making continuous improvements over multiple iterations. Once a prototype is approved, developers get clarity on how to proceed with the development. Developers can quickly develop applications based on the prototype, get it tested, fix the bugs, and release it to users for feedback. Once they receive feedback, they can make adjustments to the application. Having a software prototype simplifies the job of a developer as they can save time on reworks and focus on improving the application and launching it quickly in the market. 

Improves collaboration in team members

Prototyping not just improves the communication between the developer and the user, but it also improves communication within the team. A prototype allows every team member to understand user expectations and work towards it as a single team. It reduces conflicts and misunderstandings between developers, product owners, designers, and testers and helps them reach a consensus before kicking off the application development phase. Also, considering that a prototype is shared between the team members, they can easily track the changes and feedback and complete the application development within an agreed timeline.  

Identifies and fixes flaws at an early stage

Prototyping helps users identify and fix flaws in the application at an early stage. Considering that users are actively involved in the prototyping process, they can identify the flaws even before the development begins and reduce the risk of failure at a later stage. It also enables developers to recognize missing functionalities and include them in developing a user-friendly application. By identifying and fixing flaws early, developers can save time and cost on rework and focus on launching a finished product soon. 


Needless to say, having a prototype simplifies the work of developers, product managers, designers, and testers. To build an initial prototype, developers must research the market, the competitors, and user needs. Once they understand the needs and general landscape, they must develop an initial prototype and share it with team members and users for testing. Based on the feedback, they can make iterations to the prototype and move on to developing the application. A systematic product development process like this will help developers create successful products quickly at a minimal cost.

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