Whether you’re developing a website or creating new software, you know just how important it is to prototype and wireframe your design before putting it into fruition. With the right prototype and wireframes tool, you can document dynamic pieces of your project, such as transitions, animations, and other features that are hard to represent in a static document.
Prototyping and wireframing is also a great way to map out your project. Blindly developing often leads to a lot of rebuilding. It’s always best to have a plan of attack for how your project will not only look, but function as well.
With so many different tools on the market, how do you know which one best meets your needs? Here’s what you need to know about selecting the best prototyping and wireframe tools that will make your project a success.
Consider the Learning Curve
We’re creatures of habit, so if you’ve used a prototype and wireframing tool in the past, it makes the most sense to use a tool that you’re familiar with. Learning a new tool from scratch can take a lot of time, and if you’re on a schedule crunch, you want to go with a familiar tool if possible.
If you’re completely new to prototyping tools, find one that offers a simple user interface. Take the time to try the free demo of each prototype tool so that you can get a feel for how easy (or complex!) it is to use.
The less time needed to learn how to use a new tool, the better.
Know Your Objective
Prototypes can be used for many different things, and you want to find a tool that best meets your needs by offering certain features and functionalities. You’ll also want to think about who the prototype is for. Let’s assume you’re looking to better develop your software’s proof of concept. In this instance, your internal project team is the customer, and the ultimate goal is to collaborate on the design in its earliest stages.
On the other hand, you can also use prototypes and wireframes for more thorough user testing. Here the audience would be users (testers), and the goal is to find bugs within the product so that the end result is as close to perfection as possible.
Before choosing a prototype and wireframe tool, you’ll want to first take the time to define the goals of the prototype. Depending on your ultimate goal, you may need a tool that provides a high-fidelity wireframe, or you may have an end goal where a low-fidelity design meets your needs.
Know Your Requirements
Once you’ve identified the high-level of the prototype, the next step in finding the best tool for your project is to look at finer details. While you may have experience using a certain tool, you want to first ensure that it meets all of your project needs. You don’t want to get mid-way through the prototyping phase only to find that the tool you’ve chosen doesn’t meet your needs.
Meet with your project team to discuss the details of each tool. Factors you’ll want to hone in on include:
- Supported prototypes
- Technical compatibility
Most importantly, loop back to your overall objective. You’ll find that prototyping and wireframing tools are divided into two separate groups. There are tools that are designed to represent a specific interaction and there are tools that emulate user flows.
Don’t Skip Evaluating Each Tool
Instead of just looking at each tool from a high-level standpoint and understanding what features and functionality that it offers, you want to build time into your project schedule to get hands-on with each tool. Taking the time to evaluate each tool gives you the ability to smartly narrow down your options.
You’ll want to look at factors such as fidelity, platform and channel support, sharing and collaboration, and of course, price. Ask for live demos of each tool or use a free version of it to get a real feel for how it works. Be sure to include your team so that everyone can provide input into what they think of each tool.
Finding The Right Tool for the Job
As with any software that you bring in house, you want to ensure that you’ve taken the time to thoroughly vet and test all of the prototyping and wireframe tools that you’re considering for your project. Choosing the right tool makes the earlier planning stages of developing a website, software, or even a mobile app much more efficient and meaningful.