Developing prototypes is now commonplace in UX design. Whether the goal is to get audience feedback or client approval, developing UX design prototypes is fairly normal. In fact, clients consider UI UX prototyping vital when hiring design services.
What Do UX Design Prototypes Refer to?
The role of a UX design prototype is to help people see how a product will work. Generally, prototypes are a cheaper knock-off of the real product.
They are vital because companies don’t wish to invest in products blindly. Every company wants to know whether its product idea actually works. They also want to know if it works as they want it to. Prototypes help in this regard as they present a functional version of the product.
Products in this context refer to mobile apps and websites. Some prototyping methods are wire-framing, mock-up optimization, and sketching. UX design professionals generally have to know these methods to make prototypes.
UX Design Prototypes in the World of Designers
After years of web development and design, professionals have come to rely on UX design prototypes to validate their work. Designers coming into the field are expected to know UX prototyping. For instance, companies expect designers to know how to create an Axure prototype and a range of other UX prototyping tools.
Knowing how to create an Axure prototype is not enough as a prototyping skill. From learning Adobe XD to Invision, there are a range of different UX prototyping tools.
The role of UX design prototypes in the world of designers is paramount. Professionals find a range of different applications for prototypes, from UX optimization to product visualization. It is difficult to imagine designers today come up with optimal product designs without UX prototyping playing a pivotal role in the background.
What are Clickable Prototypes?
Let’s say a UX design professional creates different prototypes of a website. One way of prototyping is creating a visual representation of each page of the website. This set of prototypes for each page on the app is commonly known as static design file. When UX prototyping first came about, design professionals used to create a static design file.
This style of prototyping worked for a while. Even then, the drawbacks were always clear. A static design file would convey exactly how each page of a website would look. However, it was difficult for clients to visualize how each page would appear at the click of a button.
This difficulty in visualization was not restricted to the clients alone. UX designers themselves missed many simple errors because of the lack of dynamism in a static design file.
This has brought about the arrival of clickable prototypes.
Unlike static design files, clickable prototypes are not exactly a collection of images or wireframes. They are an actual live model of working website or app. Users can click on certain hot buttons and watch the screen transition to a different page.
At the moment, UX designers prefer clickable prototypes over traditional static design programs. There are many reasons for the same. While static design files are still extensively used, they are largely absent from projects which involve a lot of UX work. Most tools for prototyping include the option to create clickable prototypes, an essential now in UX design.
Read more: RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN
What Makes Clickable Prototypes Essential for UX Design?
There are many reasons which make clickable prototypes an essential part of UX design. As UI UX prototyping has grown important, the need for clickable prototypes has also become apparent. Static design presentations make it difficult for both clients and designers to visualize how an application works.
Clickable prototypes help solve these problems, but this is not the sole reason why they are important.
Moving forward, we will point out the key reasons why clickable prototypes are important for UX design. Furthermore, we will also later cover some of the best UX prototyping tools for developing clickable designs.
Helping Everyone Involved Understand the Design
In most cases, clients who hire a design agency don’t know anything about UX design themselves. Furthermore, it is highly likely they’re working with UX designers for the first time in their professional careers.
Is it really wise to expect clients to comprehend the nature of UX design with static prototypes?
A static design file shows clients every little part of their eventual product. However, the file is not able to help clients actually feel what it’s like using the product. In many cases, static design prototypes end up becoming a PPT presentation. This is a severe indictment for static design prototypes because their sole purpose is to help people get a slight experience of using the product.
Furthermore, clients are not able to understand the thinking behind the designs developed by a UX designer. In effect, clients can neither appreciate the positive aspects of a product or the drawbacks with static prototyping.
Clients are not the only ones who face this problem. When working for an agency, UX designers have to show their work to senior staff and supervisors. Making them understand the idea behind a design is difficult with static design wireframes and mock-ups.
Thus, everyone involved with the project doesn’t really get a chance to accurately get real product usage experience. This can become a severe drawback because all the things which UX designers miss in prototyping come back to haunt them post-development. In projects that involve a lot of UX work, static design files are an extreme liability as they don’t convey the nature of the product to a minimum required level.
The simple solution to this problem is using a clickable prototype. They introduce a level of clarity that static design files severely lack.
Clickable Prototypes are Cheap and Easy to Make
Another additional reason to use clickable prototypes is that they are inexpensive. Some of the best UX prototyping tools in the market come with the additional option of developing clickable prototypes. From Axure and Adobe XD to Invision, there is a provision to allow UX designers to create a clickable prototype.
The fact they are cheap may seem like a non-essential point to many, but it’s crucial for a majority of small businesses.
Getting good UI/UX design services in this day and age is not cheap. An average web design agency charges a serious sum of money.
Thus, when clients hear about clickable prototyping, they hold their breath. Since clients are unlikely to be design experts, they don’t know the exact meaning of clickable prototyping. They haven’t taken classes in Adobe XD training. They immediately think about the extra money clickable prototyping would cost them.
This is why it’s important to bring this point to light. Developing clickable prototypes is not an expensive venture. In fact, clients should take the lead and insist on UX designers developing clickable prototypes instead of indecipherable static design files.
If clients don’t specifically ask for this, design agencies must take the lead. Both UX design professionals and clients benefit from using clickable prototypes. There is little reason for a design agency to not want to develop dynamic prototypes. It helps them create designs which above all meet client requirements.
Another benefit of using clickable prototypes is that they’re easy to make. It doesn’t take the best web designer in the world to create a dynamic prototype. Generally, knowing how to use common tools for prototyping is enough to create clickable prototypes.
They Help UX Designers Validate the Viability of Design
In the course of designing something, UX designers consider a range of different solutions. The process of both design and development involves professionals considering a range of different solutions. In fact, this is the true essence of modern application development.
During the process of designing a product, many solutions designers consider don’t actually end up working. This is a natural part of the design process. Generally, UX design pros discover erroneous solutions with the help of prototypes. After all, the entire point of UX prototyping is validating all the solutions deployed during design and development.
However, static prototypes make it difficult for professionals to study the viability of a design. This is because static prototypes don’t actually help designers get a real feel of the product. This drawback of static design is the reason they’re always considered inferior to clickable prototypes.
Clickable prototypes introduce everyone to the actual experience of using the product. In simple words, they do exactly what user experience prototyping is meant to – help people get a feel of the product.
This is a crucial point when we consider mobile app design. Mobile apps are controlled by the touch impressions of users. It is difficult to narrow down the impact of touch impressions on a static prototype. Thus, a clickable prototype is a natural solution to summing up all the different actions a user can take while using a product, especially mobile apps.
There are some aspects of user experience that are very intuitive. They can only be felt when users feel they’re using something responsive and live. All these points help us understand why dynamic rapid prototyping is important.
In fact, rapid prototyping UX design professionals generally tend to lean on clickable prototypes during mobile app design.
Recognizing Non-Working Features and Lost Opportunities
When designing a product, both designers and developers brainstorm a range of different features to add. Doing so is natural because features help make a product engaging. Even clients who hire a design agency understand the role features play in making a website or app engage with the target users.
Generally, the features which all parties agree upon are developed and pushed into the design template. Then, the viability of these features comes under scrutiny with the help of an appropriate prototype.
At the testing stage, a lot of questions come to the fore. The viability of the features falls under the scanner. This is a normal part of the design process and a positive practice. This is because it helps iron out all the problems in the design.
However, in case the prototype in question is static, it is highly likely those testing it would fail to comprehend the features. This is because static prototypes don’t provide users with the intuitive UX design they need to truly get a feel of the product.
This causes to problems. Firstly, users are not able to spot all the non-working and redundant features using a static prototype. This means a lot of needles and erroneous features carry forward to the final design and product. A move like this creates a lot of problems in the post-development phase.
Secondly, static prototypes also hinder UX design professionals from finding the many possible areas where certain features can improve user experience. They end up becoming missed opportunities for design professionals.
The easiest way to deal with this problem is using clickable prototypes. They offer users a window into eventual product and help them get a real feel of using the product.
In Conclusion – Importance of Clickable prototypes in UX Design
In this piece, we brought to light the key reasons why clickable prototypes are important for UX design. Generally, the importance of something is best understood when it goes missing. At various points in this piece, we were able to grasp the importance of clickable prototypes when UX design pros use static design files.
The role of dynamic prototypes is very important when one considers the long term cycle of UX design. Through this piece, both clients and UX designers will understand the defining role of dynamic prototypes in helping optimize UX design.