I bet you now have a great idea and you cannot stop thinking about how it will disrupt the market or bring a solution that no one had ever thought about before. If you are an experienced developer, you probably have put some thought about coding, server allocation and other technical matters. But it is important that before diving into a web based or mobile based project you need to validate your ideas through researching and asking for others opinion, to see how would they react and their possible feedbacks.
During conversations, your 1 min pitch, or how long it may be, will surface. If you have it couples with a mock-up/prototype displaying right on your phone, tablet or laptop; wouldn't your pitch becomes much more coherent and you would be able to convey your message more effectively, in a short amount of time?
Yes, you would and during this article we will introduce you to the concept of mock-ups and prototypes and why they are crucial to have for any start-up.
What are mockup and prototype and how are they different?
Mock-up is a collection of layouts or screens, showing how your new web platform or mobile application looks like to the intended users. It is created after the Requirement Brief session between the agency and the client. Mock-up includes both the User Interface (UI) as well as the User Experience (UX) aspect. Where UI is the look and UX is the logic of the system. Both of UI & UX are heavily influenced from the Customer Journey Mapping and the Information Flow, often given by the client.
Prototype is created from a mock-up. It is an early model that outline how a web platform or mobile application will function. It includes functional elements as well as dummy (or demo) data. A prototype is created to be as close as the final version as possible, usually at-least 80%. It is meant for beta-users, not actual customers, to play around with the platform or application as much as possible and give their feedbacks, which can be used to complete the final product.
What are the benefits of mock-ups and prototypes?
#1. They transmit your messages faster to your audience
90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, plus, they are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. Thus, no matter how amazing your idea is or how well you prepared your pitch, wouldn't it wise to talk less & show more, hence less words and more visuals?
A picture worth a thousand words, but in this case, a mockup or prototype can worth millions, since you can reference your messages with screens and other elements as you move along.
#2. They help eliminate barriers and uncertainties
If your audience can only understand one language, and that is your second language and not your mother tongue's, then there is a possibility your audience might misunderstand or miss your points, due to language barriers and other uncertainties such as noises in the room or someone interrupt as you speak.
With some visuals, especially clickable ones, they will help capture your audience's attention, help them to focus and make sense of your idea/messages the first time they hear them.
#3. They help to organize your ideas and the project scope.
Even if you have a clear picture of how your product will look like, it is only when you actually map out and design the user interface that you realize the dimension of your project. They help you to find out how many action points are necessary and how your new web platform or mobile application looks and feel for the user, both from the front-end and back-end.
Furthermore, mockup and prototype are heavily influenced by a Customer Journey Map that illustrates how users and information flow across your platform or application. Thus they help you greatly in making scenarios that in turn give you a much better idea of how your future project interact with the intended audiences and vice versa.
#4. They help you avoid or at least minimize potential risks.
The world of startups is full of risks, one of which is that people may use your new app or website or system once and never return.
Take John for example, he is interested in your new web platform, he navigates around it and realizes it takes him 10 mins just to perform a simple task. The layouts are simply not very user-friendly for John. Soon he realizes he isn't feeling comfortable in using your platform, thus he moves on to your competitors. Also, the bright orange header gives him a negative vibe on the platform.
Mockup and prototype help to avoid all this together, or at least minimize potential damages. They allow you to conduct beta testing, to see how long or how simple it would take for a particular person to perform and complete certain tasks. Or to see if certain elements would affect user bounce rates, number of page view per session or conversion rate.
Ultimately, mockup and prototype help you make decisions, sometimes critical ones, regarding your new project's components, may it be the colours, the popup, the size of buttons or the ratio of your illustrative images...all of which can play a significant part in turning a browser, into a paying customer.
Moreover you will save significantly in term of both money and time to learn if your idea actually works with a mockup and/or a prototype, rather than waiting until the final release of your new marketplace platform or an education app for kids.