Prototype Testing: Will it Make Software Testing Easier

Understand what is Prototype testing and how to perform it. Review Wondershare Mockitt Prototyping Tool and see how it helps with Prototype Testing:

Will Prototype Testing make Software Testing easier? To address this question, we must first understand the concept of a prototype in the context of software development.

A prototype refers to a wireframe or mockup that replicates the functionality of the product under development. It is not the product and may not resemble the end product at all. However, the functions it performs will mimic the features of the actual product before it goes into the development stage.

What Is Prototype Testing

Prototype Testing

Prototype testing is a way to evaluate the viability of a design in terms of how it can achieve the desired functionalities. It typically involves sharing a clickable prototype with multiple stakeholders so various functions can be tested comprehensively.

So, how does this tie into software testing as a broader topic?

Software testing is a more detailed and comprehensive testing phase where all aspects of an application are thoroughly tested against all specifications, not just basic functions. As such, the initial prototype testing will reveal major flaws before those flaws can be built into the application. It helps avoid expensive code changes even before the product development cycle begins.

Prototype Testing: Before And After development

Let us see what does this testing does before and after development in this section.

Prototype testing is a valuable component in the overall SDLC because it pre-empts errors from being translated into code that may have to be rewritten at a later time, which is a waste of resources. Instead, with this testing, these errors are revealed early on so they can be corrected at the design stage.

Here are some examples of how it can prove useful before and after development:

Pre-Development benefits of Prototype Testing

  • It helps evaluate the ‘first impression’ about the software.
  • It allows designers to correct processes and other flaws early on.
  • It validates the design process behind the functionality.
  • It reduces the overall cost by capturing errors at an early stage.

Post-Development benefits of Prototype Testing

  • Major errors in the final software application will have been eliminated or minimized due to this testing.
  • Any missing features or functions can be spotted and integrated into the design.
  • It can help enhance the user experience by allowing the designers to perfect the flow before the product goes into development.

It’s clear that a design prototype test can provide valuable information to the design team once other users have tested the design.

But what is the process involved in prototype testing? Let’s take a detailed look at how this type of testing is actually executed as a process, important factors to keep in mind while testing prototypes, and the best-case scenario for the output of a design prototype test.

Process Of Prototype Testing

Process of Prototype Testing

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How To Test A Prototype

There is a fixed framework for how a prototype should be tested, so it checks all the required boxes. In fact, the boxes themselves are the first step in preparing an app design for the prototype test.

The steps are as follows:

#1) Detail the specifics of your objective for testing

Why are you testing the app design or prototype in the first place? That should be the first question you ask yourself because it will help define the scope and objectives of conducting the test.

You can break this down into functional and experiential goals, each of which is tested by the targeted user. This will give you valuable information about what to change and how to change it when the results of the test come out.

#2) Define the Tester Demographic

You need to identify the ideal persona before testing your design prototype. Now that you have your objectives defined, this part should be easy. It involves picking the ideal user demographic for your application and then qualifying potential testers against this persona.

For example, what age-group will be using the app, what is the ideal monthly income profile or educational profile of the end-user, and so on. You’ll need to ask questions like ‘how familiar are they with this general category of product?’, ‘Are my testers already familiar with the OS platform we’re targeting?’, etc. Once you have defined the user demographic, you can move to the next stage.

#3) Break your testing into specific stages

Also known as staging the prototype, this is a critical component of the testing phase because it gives users a specific set of functions to test out.

For instance, you may want to test a paper prototype by using information architects to validate the flow of some features. Alternatively, you may want to test a hi-fi prototype to see what type of user experience it leads to. This also allows you to be more thorough in your testing because you’re approaching it from a dual ‘feeling and function’ point of view.

#4) Define the tasks for the testers

Testers often need very specific instructions in terms of what goals they need to accomplish on the prototype. The ‘just check it out and tell me what you think’ approach does not work here. They need to know what features to test and what actions to execute within the scope of that feature.

On the UX side, you can ask them to fill out a questionnaire about how they ‘felt’ while using the app. Doing both these things will give you more comprehensive results that are actually useful. These results should be able to guide your next steps to improve the experience or refine a particular feature.

#5) Clinical Testing vs. Real-world Testing

Knowing the difference between how an app will be used under specific test conditions and out in the real world can give you valuable insight into actual usability aspects.

In a formal app prototype test, a special space is usually created for users so they can test the app without any distractions. However, that’s not how the app will be used in real life. Doing A/B testing in this manner will give you tremendous insights into how an app behaves under different conditions.

For instance, how does an interruption in the mobile network affect a particular feature of the app? Are the error messages appropriate? Does the app hang and force the user to quit it? These are critical pieces of information that you normally wouldn’t get under “ideal” test conditions.

#6) Data Gathering and Analysis

How are you collecting data regarding the usability of the prototype? Are you using screen capture software to track finger contact and other gestures? Are you simply making a recording of the user testing the app?

These questions will help you outline your data capture mechanisms, how you organize that data, and how you analyze it so it yields actionable information to improve the user experience and correct flaws in the app before it goes into development.

This brings us to the final part of planning the test.

What To Do With The Output Of Test

This is your gold mine when it comes to prototype tests. Everything before it was intended to yield this result. So, what do you do now that you have the output?

As mentioned, the analytics part is very important. Knowing how to interpret the data into action items will give you a clear picture of what needs to be fixed and what needs improvement. This ‘design thinking prototype’ approach to testing also gives you insights into how the original design can be validated through functionality.

In other words, what design improvements can be made to enhance user experience once the problems have all been fixed? How can the app’s features be more frictionless and easier to use?

Actions To Perform After Testing

After the test results are out and you have analyzed them to arrive at a list of action items, implement them immediately. If something conflicts with your design thinking, such as a particular function that doesn’t work the way it should, then go back to the design stage to see where the issue might be in the process flow.

Doing this in a timely manner is critical because it allows the testing team to coordinate with the design team in a real-time environment rather than through back-and-forth documentation.

Online design and prototyping platforms such as Wondershare Mockitt and Figma allow you to provide near-instant feedback and comments on tests so designers can see it as soon as it is available, which brings us to the choice of platform.

Wondershare Mockitt Prototyping Tool

Mockitt is a professional-grade UI design and prototyping platform that runs on the cloud. It is ideally suited to large projects involving hundreds of screens, and much smaller app prototypes and web design prototypes.

This flexibility makes it ideal for both small and large design teams as well as in-house designers who work closely with the development team to test, modify, and finalize the prototype that finally goes into production mode.

The fast prototyping feature is of particular interest because it makes the design process very responsive to the output of your prototype testing. Feedback loops are immediate, and testers can add comments for specific issues they face when testing the prototype. This allows the designer to act quickly to rectify issues and make improvements to the app design and functionality.

Mockitt: Key Feature Highlights

Here are some other features of Wondershare Mockitt that design and testing teams can benefit from:

  1. Extensive asset libraries with hundreds of icons, symbols, and widgets that can be customized and shared with other team members.
  2. Dynamic widgets to enhance the UX factor.
  3. A UI that focuses on ease-of-use and accessibility.
  4. Collaborative tools for review, commenting, and feedback.
  5. Rapid prototyping feature involving drag-and-drop linking and extensive gestures, transitions, and animation effects.
  6. Convenient and secure prototype sharing with links and QR codes that are permission-based and dynamic.
  7. Easy developer handoff after the testing.

How To Use Mockitt

The steps are as follows:

  1. Create a New Project and define the device parameters – type, aspect ratio, etc.
  2. Add design elements (widgets, icons, etc.) to your screens and create multiple screens and screen states with corresponding designs.
  3. Prototype the design by linking assets to their corresponding page states and edit the links to add gestures, transitions, effects, etc.
  4. Share the prototype with project stakeholders with simple but secure URLs and QR codes.
  5. Handoff to the developer seamlessly: code inspection, asset download, etc.

How Can Wondershare Mockitt Help With Prototype Testing

Mockitt is designed with rapid prototyping in mind. You can create complex and interactive clickable prototypes in much less time than it would take you on most other UI design platforms. It also helps with prototype testing because of the way the system is built around a collaborative environment.

Here’s an outline of how you can expect to benefit by using Wondershare Mockitt for your UI/UX design and prototyping needs:

#1) Superior Design Interface with Rich Asset Libraries

Superior Design Interface with Rich Asset Libraries

The user-friendly browser-based interface gives you what you need within reach at all times. The generous main canvas area is complemented by a number of useful tools for quick access. Customized libraries can be created and shared with other team members to ensure consistency across your app designs.

#2) Shorter Design-to-Prototype Time

Shorter Design-to-Prototype Time1

Prototyping is usually a laborious and painstaking process, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With Mockitt, prototyping a high-fidelity model is as simple as dragging a link from a widget and dropping it on the target page or screen state. The link can then be edited to add a gesture and transitions, effects, and animations, all of which are readily available at your fingertips.

#3) Comprehensive Feedback System

Comprehensive Feedback System

The real-time collaborative environment is perfect for agile teams that constantly face tough deadlines.

Communicate seamlessly within the team as well as with external stakeholders for a robust prototype testing experience. Flexible access to projects from any connected device and a modern browser. See everything happen in real-time and provide the vital feedback necessary to move from the initial prototype to the approved design in the shortest possible time.

#4) Code Generation Ideal for Testing

Code Generation Ideal for Testing

Automatic code generation of HTML and style code allows testers to not only view and test the prototype but also inspect the underlying code. The designer’s time is freed up to focus on the design and prototyping phases. This clear segregation of roles is essential to the smooth functioning of any design team, and Mockitt makes it happen.

#5) Easy Developer Handoff

The final stage after prototype approval is the handoff to the development team. This is where conflict often arises due to underlying code issues.

With Mockitt, all that friction is removed because the developer can log in to their own Mockitt account, access the shared project, review the code, provide feedback, and download all asset information without interacting with the designer. In short, the process is smoother and faster.

Conclusion

The design thinking prototype approach helps resolve a lot of issues early on because it focuses not just on the functionality of the prototype in question but the underlying design philosophy of the brand for which the asset is being developed.

This makes it easier to align design and functionality to deliver a seamless and superior user experience. It also allows the prototype testing phase to provide insights into possible new features for the product, further enhancing user experience.

The most important consideration here is using the right platform to create your prototype, and Wondershare Mockitt comes highly recommended by professionals and beginners alike for its ease-of-use, collaborative features, and affordability.