How to Create an App Prototype Properly

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Posted: December 14, 2016

Marc is a copywriter who, fittingly enough, runs Marc Schenker Copywriter. An expert in business and marketing, he helps businesses of all sizes get the most bang for their ad bucks. Make his day by liking his Facebook page!

This article is part of the Step-By-Step Guide To Validating And Launching Your App Idea post, originally published on Y Media Labs blog.

Although you’ll eventually be using prototyping tools to make your first mockups of your app, it’s always a smart move to take great ideas out of your head and write them down to reduce your mental clutter. You’ll be able to think more creatively this way, so jot down your most essential ideas on a piece of paper, including anything from the design concept of your app and its wireframe sketches to who the customer base will be and how long you envision the process taking.

As you’re doing this, think particularly closely about your users. Think about for whom you’re designing your app and what their UX will be in-app.

The Prototyping Tool

Once you have all of this down, find yourself a powerful prototyping tool that’s going to make your design iterations and experimentation easier. Ideally, your prototyping tool should have the following characteristics:

  • It lets you design mockups and wireframes easily and quickly
  • It’s free, but can be upgraded if you need more power
  • It lets you share your design iterations with your team and clients seamlessly

Some excellent prototyping tools that I recommend are Invision AppFluid UIFlintoMarvel App and Pop App. But it has to be said that many of today’s prototyping tools are so user-friendly that it’s in your best interest to try out a few, or even several of them, to determine which is most intuitive to you and your work flow. Many of them are fast and straightforward to learn how to use, so you won’t be losing much time — even if you try out a few. The upside is that at the end of your “test drive”, you’ll end up with the one that’s the exact best fit.

The Computer to Use

Since you’re designing for iOS, you won’t be surprised to learn that you can really only use a Mac to efficiently create your app. Apple’s mobile operating system can really only be used with its own computers. Yes, there are certain exceptions, including this interesting article that details how you can technically develop an iOS app on a Windows PC, but the process itself is so unwieldy and complicated that it’s more of a waste of time than anything else.

This begs the question, what happens if you want to design an iOS app but you’re stuck on Windows? If this is the case, you may want to abandon the iOS idea and just go with designing and developing an app for Android, in spite of its lackluster sales potential and clumsier development infrastructure. Android apps can be developed on Windows, Linux and even Macs.

As for actual computer speed, don’t think that you have to go out and buy yourself a brand new computer—Mac or otherwise—when you start designing and developing your app. Though a new computer will be faster, it’s not necessary to have the latest and fastest when you go to prototyping.

Remember that what’s really important when it comes to speedy design iterations and wireframing for different devices is the prototyping tool that you choose.

Even if you’re well-equipped with the tools you need to begin app design and development in earnest, you can always improve your tech knowledge to ensure that your app is the best it can be.