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7 reasons to prototype (or at least wireframe)

Wireframes & prototypes didn´t use to be a priority for IT professionals. But as the IT industry develops, it becomes essential to build websites or apps on solid foundations. Here comes a non-exhaustive list of why we should all be using wireframes and prototypes more often.

1. We speak different languages
Imagine an English developer having to explain a future website to his client, a chinese businessman… I think this speaks for itself. But we don´t need get to such extremes, the very same word can have different meanings for people that speak the same language. But simply because they have different backgrounds they won´t intend the same things behind a common concept.

2. We need to visual the future product
An image is worth a 1000 words! This is actually why we wireframe in the first place (and incidentally, reading all the specs doc of a future website is a pain, I wonder how many actually do it). Even if it´s only a sketchy wireframe, at least everybody sees where is what and how it looks like.

3. Clear up your ideas
Get things clear! Wireframes and prototypes help you to organise and share your idea avoiding misunderstanding. You´ll see what´s possible and what´s not.

4. Save time (it´s quick)
Because with a prototype in hands, you know what to expect as a final outpout. Hence prototyping will save you time during development and avoids rework being done too. A prototype is also quickly shared & commented among collegues and you can apply ongoing changes to it so you see in real-time what´s being done.

5. … and money (it´s cheap)
Time is money, everybody knows it! Whether it´s on conception, design or development, saving time most certainly means less man-month! Plus, the whole point of a prototype is to save time, so it´s usually developed using cheaper & easier technologies than the one that will be used for the final product.

6. Anyone can do it
No need to be a high-profile developer to do a prototype. Actually, it´s quite the opposite. If you want to build a good user interface, you might want to ask a UX designer, or designer to build what usually a simple HTML prototype. Moreover, with high-fidelity prototyping softwares, everybody can create fully functional prototypes without a single line of coding.

7. Run user testing before development
This is probably the main advantage of prototyping! Prototyping the UI of a website or an app lets you carry out user tests before developing the final thing. This is also a big difference between functional prototypes and static wireframes, as the latest doesn’t allow you to do this.

All in all, Prototyping will “fluidifies” all processes of any IT project, from design to development and testing. With RIA & dynamic websites the need for prototyping will be increasingly present.

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