[An excerpt from the article Stop Guessing and Start Prototyping published in Casual Connect Magazine]
In order to understand why you should be prototyping, you must first understand the associated benefits. The overriding benefit, of course, is that prototyping increases the chance of producing a successful and polished product. In addition, here is just a partial list of the ancillary benefits I have encountered over the years:
- Prototyping clarifies requirements. Requirements often change during the development cycle of a product. Prototyping ensures that requirements are defined more fully.
- Prototyping helps set expectations. We all have our own expectations, and in many organizations, these expectations come from a variety of stakeholders who sometimes have conflicting interests (accountants, sales people, marketing, developers, etc.). Setting expectations early on with a prototype can help avoid problems later in the development cycle.
- Prototyping helps to identify issues or gaps early on. Seeing a concept in action allows stakeholders and developers to fill in gaps or identify potential issues early on. These issues can relate specifically to almost any branch of a company: legal, marketing, development, etc. For example, a media company may have a great idea for an app featuring a character that flies. However, the branding department may determine that this is “off brand” as the character is supposed to be afraid of heights. These are the types of issues that a company wants to flush out early on.
- Prototyping introduces a user perspective early in the process. With a working prototype, developers and stakeholders can get perspective via focus groups and internal testing early on. This allows the team to shift direction as needed, based on user feedback.
- Prototyping minimizes risks. When prototyping, there is less risk of allocating time and budget to a flawed concept. The teams can then focus on winning ideas and weed out lesser ideas more quickly.
- Prototyping minimizes costs. Seeing a game in action early on allows developers to innovate and make revisions early in the development process, thus limiting expenditures on flawed functionality or concepts.