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To Prototype or Not To Prototype?


I’m sure everyone reading this blog would agree that the user interface is one of the most important parts of any application. Without doubt the UI affects the customer experience more than any other element because it determines how easily you can get what you want from the website. As over a decade of living with the web has taught us, a web application with a poorly designed user interface has little value.

We’ve always preached that when creating a new web app starting with the user interface makes more sense than beginning with the data model. On one hand as traditional MVC (Model-View-Controller) frameworks have evolved there is more emphasis on the role of the UI (or View) elements. Unfortunately there is an entire generation of data experts and architects that don’t like this idea. We still here of businesses that decline to do any web prototyping before building their applications. I’m a little disappointed that there is still resistance to a UI or prototyping first approach. The advantages are enormous, especially for startups and new internal projects.

As we have noted before in previous posts about the advantages of web prototyping, prototyping can improve the quality of requirements and specifications provided to developers. User testing the prototype gets the potential bugs out the way so much sooner. The web prototype being tested by the user prevents many misunderstandings and miscommunications that might occur between the designers and developer. Changes to the data and application layers cost exponentially more to implement as they are detected later in development, the early determination of what the user really wants always results in faster and less expensive web apps. Because web prototyping requires user involvement and allows them to see and interact with a prototype allowing them to provide better and more complete feedback and specifications.

Author Richard Banfield

As CEO, Richard leads Fresh Tilled Soil’s strategic vision. He’s a mentor at TechStars and BluePrintHealth, an advisor and lecturer at the Boston Startup School, and serves on the executive committees of TEDxBoston, the AdClub’s Edge Conference, and Boston Regional Entrepreneurship Week.

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