How To Prototype In Time and Budget Constraint Projects

In the software development industry, you can expect that you’ll encounter clients who are too cheap, who want to have more than they pay for, who want to make things done impossibly quick, and who are just plain difficult to work with.

Budget and Time Limitations
Remember that every project has cost and time limits. You can’t always work according to your ideal. You will either make a compromise or look for a better client. And doing the former is much easier than the latter.

When you’re faced with a client that imposes time and cost limits, you should always be upfront. Tell him/her that the quality of the project will suffer and some processes must be cut to deliver a completed project.

What can you cut anyway? It’s sad to say but one of the first things that developers remove during the development cycle is prototyping or creating high fidelity mockups. Despite the usefulness of prototypes, the cost of developing them outweighs their benefits in a tight situation.

Instead of making prototypes, it’ll be much better to focus on design iterations, visual design, and user research to comply with UX design principles.

The Current Project Phase
If you’re given some leeway, you can create prototypes. Still, you must make sure that the number of iterations of the prototype must be few. How can you do that? You can do so by being aware of the current phase of your project.

In the early concept and design phase, you should never make any prototype. You can settle with wireframes or low fidelity mockups. They are quick and easy to do, and you can reiterate it multiple times without sacrificing too many resources.

Wireframes should suffice when you are still in the process of brainstorming ideas, integrating common elements from similar projects, testing scopes, and knowing the client’s requirements or the core features of the project.

If you’re already midway on completing the project and a feedback loop is required, then that’s the right time to make prototypes. A feedback loop improves the efficiency of the development and shields your project from rejection.

You must initiate the loop by creating a prototype. They are there to engage clients to provide the feedback you need. It is the primary purpose of prototypes, and wireframes can be deemed useless at this point – unless you need to settle for it because of resource constraints.

Complexity of the Project
When faced with a complicated project, there’s no way you can’t progress without prototyping. If the client insists on skipping it to save time and money, then you can either just reject his/her offer or propose a much simpler solution.

Wireframes can easily demonstrate changing of pages, viewing static content, and even data processing. However, it can’t demonstrate intricate processes, especially if the core of the processes lies between the user and the project.