What is website prototyping?
When web developers talk about preparing a prototype for their clients, usually as a part of the discovery process, they actually create a proof of concept for the functional part of the site. Prototypes typically:
- Is “live” and view-able in the browser and works like a website.
- It doesn’t contain ANY design components.
- Is self-contained (sanboxed), usually on your designer’s development server.
- Clearly shows how the site, or part of the site, will function.
- Is quick and light to load.
- Only contains the minimum amount of content required to demonstrate key components of the site.
So what’s the purpose? Well, the primary purpose of a website prototype is to communicate the key components of the site and prove that the solution meets the business’ desired needs before going live. It’s also a phase where significant changes are made to the initial design. If you discover that the solution your designer proposed falls short of your expectations, this is where you and your designer can mutually consider other options to help avoid unnecessary confusion or disappointment.
Not every website will require a prototyping stage. But if your site has significant functionality requirements, a lot of moving parts, or a complex user experience, then prototyping is something your web developer should suggest to you to assure that your expectations are meet.
The value of prototyping is indispensable, especially for your business as a whole. Adding prototyping into the design and discovery phase helps you and your designer identify any additional requirements or changes early on, saving time and money!