If a prototype is a mockup, web prototyping is the process by which precisely that is developed: a visual mockup of the future web. Do you know that if you don’t dedicate enough time to this preliminary phase, you can create an unusable website? As in everything, you have to start building from the foundations to have a solid foundation; in the case of a website, those foundations are prototyping.
Web prototyping: key in web design
Sculptors, painters, and even writers make sketches before undertaking their respective works. Without the sketch, the anatomy of a human sculpture could look like any other living thing or look like nothing at all. The same happens with a web page; we say that web prototyping is vital in web design. And is that in this phase, a first idea of what a website will be like is generated.
One of the functions of prototyping is to help establish the content hierarchy of a site and design the user journey. This is the time to define how you want your potential customers to behave on your future website.
Of course, for the web prototyping process to make sense, an equally crucial preliminary task is necessary: defining the website’s objectives.
One of the functions of prototyping is to establish the website’s content hierarchy and design the user journey.
Phases of web prototyping
When we refer to the prototyping process, we talk about the four phases that make up the creation of that web mockup, from the preliminary design of the idea to the actual prototype:
- Sketching: at first, the general appearance of the website is designed. A task that can well be carried out with pencil and paper. It is about approximately laying the foundations so that blocks of content and flows become apparent.
- Wireframing: it is the phase in which the structure of the web begins to be seen. Here elements of it such as images, text boxes, and buttons are introduced.
- Mockup: Design decisions such as choosing the color palette, typography, and overall website look come into play.
- Functional prototype: the result of the three previous phases must be a functional and navigable prototype that allows us to experience the operation of the future web. The prototype allows us to interact with the web and offers us a vision almost identical to the final site’s.
Seven web prototyping tools
Although we pointed out before that, a simple pencil and paper are the rudimentary tools that allow us to begin to outline the idea. To advance in the different phases of web prototyping, it is necessary to rely on other tools covered by new technologies. These are seven of the most interesting:
- Perfect for the mockup phase, InVision allows you to upload static designs to transform them into interactive mockups.
- It has a free plan, a premium plan, and a custom plan for large companies.
- Easy to use in the cloud.
- They are employed by companies like Twitter, PayPal, or LinkedIn.
- Usable from the wireframing stage, Marvel offers help for creating interactive mockups.
- It allows validating the design on the fly.
- Specific for agencies, consultancies, and financial businesses.
- Depending on the functionalities, it has a price plan that goes from zero to 27 euros per month.
- Sketch works in the cloud using the drag element technique, so its use is very intuitive.
- It is recommended for the mockup phase.
- It has many plugins.
- It has a free trial.
- Pricing is $9.99 per month or $99 per year.
- It is chosen by companies such as Google, Facebook, or Xbox.
- Recommended from the wireframing phase.
- Offer a free trial.
- It can be used from the cloud or in a desktop version.
- They are focused on the user interface.
- Prices range from 2 euros per month to 200 euros per month, depending on the number of projects.
- Usable from scratch in the web prototyping process.
- Offers customizable templates.
- It has a library of sound effects, icons, and animated icons.
- Allows you to work with video.
- Their pricing plans range from $24 per month to $160, depending on the number of projects and active users.
- Facebook currently owns it.
- It is mainly used for iOS but allows prototyping on Android.
- Apps such as Instagram or Paper have been developed with this tool.
- Includes plugins for Photoshop.
- Allows you to export the project code.
- Its use is free; just download it to start using it.
- A framer is presented as a complete tool to carry out web prototyping in its entirety.
- It is an interactive tool from the first phase of prototyping.
- Use drag blocks on the screen.
- It has a free plan, a premium plan from 19 euros per month, and a personalized plan for large companies.
- It is the tool chosen by Spotify, HBO, or Adidas.
As you can see, web prototyping allows you to predict the behaviour of users of a website. Plus, you gain complete control over the web design process, offering an easy way to avoid future problems. For these reasons, it is a stage of the design of any website that you should not do without. Leaving it in expert hands, you will guarantee to have a site that offers a good user experience.