Why make sites’ prototypes

How do you do prototyping?

This is something I am really interested in. You have limited amount of time (very little) and mission to impress your potential client. I am not talking about the whole wireframing experience but about something more accurate - functional prototyping.

Will you stay in Adobe realm and create design prototypes for each point of a web page flow? Or maybe you move to HTML coding right away?

What is more appealing to you: provide a whole design experience or to allow the viewer (client) to interact with the site?

Recently I was a small part of a project that was to present a functional prototype for a client. What we did is we combined both methods and worked on mockup images with a sprinkle of HTML. This turned out great for me as I could focus on the design aspects working with images and then add a bit of interactivity with HTML.

While doing this it got me thinking: is prototyping in HTML a good or a bad thing? I for one think it is quite useful in many cases. Why? Well, then read on:

Iteration 0 - this is the first iteration of a project life cycle. In iteration 0 you prepare your environment and check if all is ok. What better time to do prototyping and setting up the environment at the same time?

Sanity check - while setting up mockup page flow you have to think about the actual structure of the site, what templates are used and what functionalities are accessible. All the flaws will come out at this point and be aware that it is a beginning, this is the place to raise all the inconsistency issues

You engage your client - instead of giving him a bunch of static images you present an interactive demo. It might not be a state of art (I would even say that it shouldn’t be) but you start working on the whole user experience from day one.

Technical focus - while creating a live prototype you start to think about all those technical issues that might be overlooked while doing plain imagery. You take into account whole bunch of new factors like data retrieval, browser compatibility, accessibility issues, usability.

Doing functional prototypes in HTML is tons of fun. Remember, it doesn’t have to be clean and tidy. Prototypes are meant to be messy. This is only to help all the people on the project to get the same idea of what you are doing. Plus it brings out the weak spots early. Good stuff.

What about you? Can you answer my questions from the beginning of the article? Or maybe you have a completely different view on the subject? Care to share?

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