Technology

6 Reasons Why You Should Prototype Your Idea Before Developing It

Without a roadmap, your chances of failure increase.
6 Reasons Why You Should Prototype Your Idea Before Developing It
Image credit: 10'000 Hours | Getty Images
Guest Writer
Co-founder at Arkenea
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs who want to build a tech startup make is that they don't create a roadmap or prototype. Without a prototype, you can end up going down an unclear and expensive path when you're developing your mobile app or product. That's why prototyping is a crucial part of creating an app.

Related: Are You Making These Common Mistakes in Your Start-up?

Here's how it can benefit you and how to get it done:

1. Gain clarity.

Without a defined concept, you can easily set your app up for failure, and it's hard to define your concept sans a roadmap and a visual aid, such as a prototype. Your roadmap helps you to define and sharpen the idea of your concept by mapping out the customer's journey.

Base this information on market research by analyzing your competition and determining what features attract your target audience to your competitor's apps. Your app should address your users' needs and provide more value than what your competition offers so that you have a unique value proposition.

With this information, you can produce a high-fidelity prototype of your mobile app that is interactive so that stakeholders can have a clear vision of what the interfaces, interactions and other elements of your app would be like once the final app is made.

2. Quickly validate your idea in the market.

If you want to entice stakeholders to invest in your app, you need to validate your concept in the market. A prototype helps you achieve this goal since it can help you test market demand. You can opt to create a prototype using a prototyping tool or have an outsourced team build one for you to your specifications.

Choose app metrics, such as app usage and engagement, to determine market demand so you can save time and money from further developing an app that may not work.

3. Save on cost.

App development isn't cheap. It could be $5,000 to $50,000 or run into the hundreds of thousands, even millions, depending on the customization and maintenance required. Building an app without developing a prototype first drives up your costs over time. Maintenance costs can take up 15-20 percent of the cost of app development.

Related: 8 Huge Mistakes Most Entrepreneurs Don't Realize They're Making

A prototype helps you reduce the expenses of app maintenance due to inefficiencies since you'll be able to identify bugs and vulnerabilities before the final development of the app. You'll also save on rebuilding costs if your developers later find that the app is not meeting compliance requirements.

4. Develop consistent UX.

If you want to get users hooked on your app, you have to provide an experience that helps facilitate what your app is offering your users. Mobile marketing analytics research company Localytics noted in a study that only 21 percent of people who download apps only use the app once. So, it's important to focus on taking steps to retain users and understand their behaviors.

With a prototype, you have the power to observe user interaction with your app. You can study user behaviors early on in the development process and make adjustments to your app to improve their experiences. For example, you can change the font of a button's text if you notice that users click the button more often. This helps to improve their experience and encourage engagement with your app.

5. Drive stakeholder acceptance with a proven concept.

When you're trying to convince important stakeholders, such as venture capitalists, angel investors or even crowdfunding audiences, to invest in your mobile app, it's challenging to get them to buy-in to your concept without a visual, working prototype.

But with an app prototype, these crucial stakeholders get a clickable, interactive app they can use and test. It helps to justify funding since it reduces the risk of uncertainty and helps your audience visualize the potential profit your app can bring.

Related: What Should Entrepreneurs Pitch, Products or Ideas?

6. Fine-tune your prototype to improve your concept.

A prototype also gives you the opportunity to explore new ideas and further improve on your concept because it allows you to see problems with the app early in the development process. Creating a prototype gives you the chance to improve on your concept so that your development team can find potential weak spots and errors.

According to a study by MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute, 13 percent of users delete mobile apps due to bugs. It's important to test your app with your target audience to identify errors before you finalize the product. During this stage, it's important to document user interactions, errors incurred and each instance and version that you updated. This helps you to create a valuable and addictive app for your target audience. For example, you can create and reference a backlog of the different versions of your app and compare the different errors your users experienced as they navigated through the system.

You can also implement features that provide feedback from your audience on the app, such as a survey or poll. Use the direct feedback to further develop the app based on their needs. You can use this information to create a more enhanced experience for your users and improve your chances of having a more successful app at the launch of the final product.

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