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Benefits of Prototyping

  • Prototyping helps to eliminate ambiguities and improve accuracy in interpretation of system requirements and functionality
  • Prototyping helps to ensure that the solution does what it is supposed to do - not what the developer thinks it ought to do, or how
  • Prototyping allows the developer to quickly demonstrate (or walkthrough) a system or part thereof, albeit limited in that its purpose may be to simply provide an insight or overview of a system (eg look and feel of the user interface), or to focus on a component part in detail but possibly in isolation (eg stand alone rather than integrated)
  • Prototyping helps to identify and address problems early on (eg missing, confusing or misunderstood features)
  • Prototyping allows the developer to explore ideas and exchange feedback with the client and end-user. This is an important step in preparing to develop a solution that is fit for purpose, does what it needs to do, and does it well
  • Prototyping helps to firm up how the final solution will look and function. Acceptance allows the developer to progress to the next stage and to be focussed on what needs to be done
  • Prototyping gives the client and end-user a greater sense of involvement, ownership and a better appreciation of the final solution
  • Prototyping helps the developer to estimate development costs, timescale, skills and potential resource requirements
  • Prototyping serves as a useful reference point - in that it can be referred back to as necessary (eg as a reminder or even in the event of a dispute further into he development lifecycle)

Prototyping is an iterative process. That is, in refining the prototype there is likely to be a need to repeat a series of steps until acceptance has been gained. Essentially, the developer should use the information gleaned and feedback received from the client and/or end-user to rework the prototype as necessary until agreement is reached by all parties. In the unlikely event that agreement cannot be reached after a comprehensive series of reworks then the feasibility of the development under the current constraints needs to be re-examined.

Next: Approaches to Prototyping