How Much To Build A Mobile App Prototype In A Week? Costing, Process, Benefits + More!

With digitalization becoming the norm, businesses must now adapt to their customer’s evolving needs. Building an app is one of the ways to align yourself with their needs. Mobile apps are expected to reach a revenue of around $613 billion by 2025 on a global scale (Statista). It is worth noting that only some businesses have the budget to spend tens of thousands of dollars on an application lavishly. One wrong move could result in bankruptcy, and it’s a matter of life and death for them!

What if we told you there was a way around this? Have you heard about a mobile app prototype?

Techopedia defines a prototype as “an original model, form or an instance that serves as a basis for other processes. In software technology, the term prototype is a working example through which a new model or a new version of an existing product can be derived.” It is the first barebone iteration or a close-enough replica of what your app will look, feel, and function like. Encompasses a “simplicity over complexity” philosophy where businesses opt for the easier way instead of the complicated path, helping save them time and money, both of which are critical resources.

The term prototype is used interchangeably with Minimal Viable Product (MVP Dev). Although they have similarities because they both validate the product idea, there are a few differences between them. Let’s overview them.

Differences Between Prototype And MVP

1. Functionality

A prototype is a replica or close-enough version of your desired application or product with limited usability. In most cases, an MVP is a fully functional and usable application or development.

2. Purpose

The function of an MVP is to gather the initial input or feedback from a beta test or give stakeholders an overview of the product. A prototype’s primary objective is to determine the idea’s viability, helping verify the existence of constraints businesses may face.

3. Complexity

Prototypes are simple and have limited features, while MVPs are complex and fully functional.

4. Time

An MVP takes much more time to build than a prototype app (weeks more, depending on complexity) which takes significantly less time to develop.

5. Cost

A Minimum Viable Product needs to be budgeted adequately because of relatively high development costs, while a prototype is very low-budget.

Benefits Of A Mobile App Prototype

1. Clarity

One of the key benefits of developing a prototype is it helps clear up any uncertainty and gives you clarity over what you’re going to build. A visual aid makes it easier to achieve a shared understanding of intended functionality, user flow, and even look and feel, which is precisely why a mobile app prototype is so sought. Before investing capital in the app, all stakeholders may observe and engage with it by developing its interactions, interface, and graphics in the prototype, guaranteeing the app’s ultimate goal.

2. Collaboration

Teams can communicate and iterate faster and more effectively with prototypes. Since all the focus is on the design rather than the development aspect, change rounds may be completed significantly and quickly for more rapid prototyping of your app. Clients are free (and even encouraged) to propose many games of modifications until the app is perfect because iterations of the prototype can be released over time (up to multiple times per week). When the project enters the development phase, ongoing discussions among UX designers, product owners, and developers guarantee that the solution put forth in the prototype will satisfy all stakeholders.

3. Simpler Acceptance

Stakeholder alignment is a business’s most challenging process in a mobile app development timeline. There are several decision-making parties, some of whom are highly tech-savvy, and others dispute the necessity of pricey digital equipment. It is undoubtedly far simpler to persuade a roomful of people to invest thousands of dollars in building an app when you can demonstrate exactly how it will look and work, as opposed to going through a list of functional and feature requirements and promising them it would be fantastic. A visual aid helps prove value, especially when there may be many stages of internal stakeholders to present to.

4. No Surprises

Once stakeholders have accepted the project and the app has been built, the worst thing possible is for them to be surprised by the finished product. A finished prototype is also used as a reference for developers, leaving as little as possible up to assumption and interpretation and resulting in an app that very closely, if not precisely, matches what was sold to the internal team. If a picture is worth a thousand words, the design process that produces an interactive prototype is worth at least a few dozen pages of a functional specifications document.

The worst thing that can happen after stakeholders have approved the project and the app has been developed is for them to be shocked by the final result. As very little is left to interpretation and imagination, which leads to an app that very closely, if not precisely, matches what was pitched to them. A finished prototype is also used as a reference for developers.

5. More Predictability

Sprint development becomes far more predictable after the team has settled on a shared vision for the app represented in the prototype. The development team will be able to estimate costs in the first place considerably more precisely. When developers can click through an interactive prototype by reading the functional specs document, a thorough grasp of what is being produced is much easier. The project timeline and budget are determined by these more accurate estimations, which will likewise be more accurate than they would be in the absence of a prototype.

6. Cheaper

Because there are nearly always several rounds of feedback and iteration until the ideal solution is accepted, it is crucial to be clear about what you’re doing and why before you start. It is strongly recommended that you go through this design sprint process during prototyping because it is easy and reasonably priced. However, it will be costly to build an app only to discover that it doesn’t meet the original requirements and needs to be rebuilt. Even if the prototype requires several iterations, the final cost will still be (usually) substantially lower than if even one unanticipated change cycle in development is needed. By including the prototype phase, the risks and unknowns are front-loaded within your app prototype cost and budget – mistakes can be made, more change rounds can be added, or the project can be reset. Despite this, the project launching the mobile app can be successful, delivered on time, and under the forecasted budget.

Let’s move on to discussing different types of prototypes, the prerequisites in building one, the essential factors to consider, and a step-by-step guide on how you can sprint build an App Prototype in a week.

Types Of Prototypes

Paper prototypes

Utilizing nothing more than a pen and piece of paper for your mobile app idea, paper prototyping is a quick and straightforward method of illustrating the notion of your product. It is also the cheapest form of photo prototyping for mobile app wireframes. That is, assuming you include in the price of the paper, the pen, and, uh, a coffee for your consumers, should they require a perk.

With paper photo prototypes, you can sit down with your user and give them tasks while making it appear as though the website or app they see on paper is genuine. If it’s a website, they can use a pen as a mouse; if it’s a mobile app, they can use their finger. When they tap a button, they swap out the sheet with the subsequent screen that would otherwise be brought up.

Low-fidelity prototypes

A basic rendition of the final product typically makes up a low-fidelity prototype. It usually includes the following:

  • Screen designs
  • Simple element descriptions
  • Dimensions, distance, and placement of components
  • Primary screen navigation and clickability

At this point, minimalism is used to maintain attention on navigation, information architecture (IA), and basic screen layouts – for that design sprint targeting weeks! This makes visualizing the product’s fundamental capabilities easier without any unnecessary distractions. Before any complex interaction or UI design is introduced, it’s also helpful for an early user test to get critical stakeholder buy-in.

High-fidelity prototypes

With an HQ prototype code ready, you should have almost done designing everything but the final product. The widget layouts, spacing, element positioning, and navigation of the low-fidelity prototype will be included in high-fidelity prototypes but with a more significant deal of information.

Hi-fi prototypes often include and are distinguishable through the following characteristics:

  • Interaction
  • Advanced UI design
  • Data visualization 
  • Real content

Hi-fi prototypes undergo several revisions over time to evolve into more complex interactions.

A few examples are page scrolling, mouse-over microinteractions for a website prototype, or a smartphone prototype’s symbol changing color when pressed. Other interactions include parallax scrolling, on-screen navigating between dynamic tabs, and navigating via accordion menus.

Prototype Prerequisites

Carry Out User Research

Mobile App Prototyping is always carried out with the end user and audience in mind. Identifying users’ identities and pain points is essential to create feature “centric” prototypes and final products. User research allows you to determine whether there is a legitimate market demand for your product and how it should function and be designed, keeping in mind the prototype cost. A prototype prerequisite list will help the final mobile app development stages!

Gather Application Project Requirements

Set the product’s business direction and core features during the requirements-gathering stage. Typically, this entails sitting down with the client, presenting them with the results of your user research, and carefully listening to their ideas. This enables you to decide as a group on the ideal product design.

Devise an Information Architecture

We can proceed to a more sophisticated app development prototype after we have a solid IA and primary click-through navigation in a lo-fi prototype. The navigation will be expanded with more complicated interactions developed, such as:

  • Scrolling (w/ parallax effect)
  • Tabbed menus
  • Accordions 
  • Dropdowns
  • Hamburger menu (on mobile)
  • Carousels

By giving the final product this level of detail, you may imagine and illustrate to stakeholders and developers the capabilities it would have and test them on consumers. At this point, you’ll also work to improve the user experience (UX) so that your finished product meets and exceeds your consumers’ needs.

Step-By-Step Guide To Building Your Mobile App Prototype 

Now that you have an overview of a prototype, how many prototypes are, and what benefits they entail, let’s discuss the prototype product strategy time estimate in detail.

1. Start a Low-Fidelity Prototype App (Lo-Fi App Design)

After speaking with the customer, establishing some user research, and formulating your cost-product needs, you may begin developing a low-fidelity (aka lo-fi) prototype. Low-fidelity (lo-fi) app development designs are the initial glance at a future product and help team members evaluate the business model canvas ideas and concepts. Speed of creation and simplicity of design are two integral properties of the low-fidelity design.

Your mobile screen layouts and the scaling and placement of UI design elements may now be built. Additionally, you’ll put a fundamental navigational flow into place and solidify a fundamental UI design. At this point, there’s no need to get too specific. You create a rough layout of your product’s mobile screens so customers, business stakeholders, and the audience can navigate and explore it. You can use a low or high-tech device to showcase the mobile app design.

2. Interaction Design App Idea

Advanced Mobile Interactions

Your prototype should show deeper functionality as you go to a high-fidelity design. Examples are a search bar that obtains data from the prototype depending on user input, accordion menus, dropdown lists, and other components.

Hi-fi prototypes also differ from devices at the low end of the spectrum in that they frequently retain text and numeric data in addition to user-inputted parameters. These UX design changes may be saved and used for further rapid prototyping of app components on the same screen or several displays.

Microinteractions

Microinteractions are essential for fine-tuning the design during the hi-fi prototyping phase. Some form of feedback in a micro-interaction typically follows a trigger initiated by the team or the system.

Micro interactions in App Prototype help decide

These subtle but essential interactions enhance the user experience and increase the clarity and usability of your product in the mobile app business.

Transitions

Consider including transitions when loading new screens or when items arrive and depart. We are discussing explosive app development elements and fade-in-fade-out changes. These interactions not only liven up a user interface but a slight delay. They also provide aids with eye readjusting.

Colorful transitions in App Prototype help decide

3. Advanced UI Design

Color

Most prototypes will have an advanced degree of UI design by the time you reach the high-fidelity stage. At this point, you should put your selected color scheme into practice based on your brand’s requirements and more sophisticated styles for components like tones, gradients, and shadows.

Colorful patterns in App Prototype help decide

Make sure your chosen color combinations highlight your brand while being easily accessible and usable. That provides enough contrast for users who are blind while also consistently saving colors like red and green for messages indicating errors and successes.

Typography

Since the typeface and font you use in your prototype will be the most accurate representation of the finished product, it is crucial to consider this when testing. Why? Because both the UX and fundamental usability depend on it. Users will be less likely to be activated and retained if your font is easy to scan and read.

Clear typography in App Prototype help decide

Refined Spacing and Positioning

Lastly, we’ll strive for a pixel-perfect portrayal of our finished product at the high-fidelity stage. This necessitates pixel-perfect spacing and alignment for all UI components. When it comes time to build the product, it will be simpler if this information is defined during the prototyping stage.

Real Images

The focus will be solely on layout, navigation, and the kind of material presented on the screen; therefore, you’ll probably use placeholders for pictures.

However, high-resolution, high-quality photographs will be used in all high-fidelity prototypes. It’s crucial to use this kind of information at this point for several reasons:

  • It facilitates getting the client’s confirmation.
  • Your prototype becomes more similar to the finished product.
  • Intuitiveness can be increased with each user test.
  • You may provide developers with picture assets along with your prototype.

Moving up the fidelity chain and getting closer to the finished product involves including high-definition visuals and hours of interactivity.

Real Text

For wireframes, placeholder text such as Lorem Ipsum is acceptable as long as it doesn’t interfere with the simulation’s navigation and orientation. Even so, you should integrate all simple text and content in your design for your high-fidelity prototype, even if it has reams of text that have nothing to do with navigating the prototype. This is why:

  • It gives the additional prototype depth.
  • It aids in determining whether specific content is effective on particular pages.
  • Your product will require a minimum amount of authentic content when your prototype is created.

Always try to include actual content in the prototypes because of these reasons. The cost and the hourly rate of effort put into the whole process are saved.

4. Prototyping Forms

An essential element of a product’s UX is form design. Users incur a fee while interacting with forms. Long forms that are unnecessary, or conditions that are overly complicated, difficult to understand, or glitchy, can drive users away and keep them from using your product again.

Prototypes are, therefore, an excellent tool for verifying and testing forms. Your prototype’s conditions should have conditional interactions, error messages, and inline validation at the high-fidelity stage. If something other than email is entered into a field, an error message might be displayed as an illustration.

5. Data visualization

Let’s move onto the last stage of a prototype’s speed app development process, which is that a high-quality prototype will probably include actual data visualization to mimic the functionality of the finished item.

Consider that you are developing a web app prototype for scheduling staff shifts. You should list each team employee’s name, position, hours, and contact information.

These types of data should be viewable in the following forms at the high-fidelity stage:

  • Lists
  • Cards
  • Grids

The user should be able to edit the prototype, repeat their modifications throughout its features, add or remove personnel, modify hours, etc. The following potential interactions should always be considered when designing data visualizations like these:

  • Putting filters on
  • Arranging data

By displaying and interacting with data, you can show stakeholders and engineers how your cross-platform or single-ended iOS or Android App product will work while testing how intuitive the interactions and features are for end users.

How Much Does It Cost To Design an App?

Building an MVP app is not free. Considerable cost is associated with it, especially early on. The first year of an MVP or even the prototype can set you anywhere from $10k to $100k ($97 avg. hourly rate), depending on your app development needs, software market, and resources locale.

The mobile app market is growing more and more each year, and the numbers make this clear. New Sensor Tower research published on Tuesday revealed that users spent $133 billion on apps in 2021, which is 20% more than in 2020. Interestingly, Apple’s App Store generates more revenue than Google Play. But, at the same time, only 5% of apps are ever downloaded, meaning most of that money goes toward a solution that is not helping you.

Here are some rough cost estimates of the potential prices of designing an app:

  • Simple app with a limited number of features: $5,000 – $20,000
  • Moderate app with an average number of features: $20,000 – $50,000
  • Complex app with many features and integrations: $50,000 – $100,000+

Keep in mind that these estimates are just rough guidelines, and the actual cost of designing an app can vary significantly based on the project’s specific details. It’s a good idea to get quotes from multiple design and development teams to understand better the costs involved.

Prototype App Development Cost: Actionable Design, App, Cost, and App Development Ideas from Pros

This piece overviewed a prototype’s speed app development process from ideation to creation for small and/or mid-size and big apps: the prototype production method. Several sprint approaches to creating rapid prototype apps save time and money. No “one-fits-all” method works for every business model and target audience. For the hours of effort, $97/hour is a reasonable cost estimate for building a prototype app.

You must identify the most effective sprint approach to build rapid prototyping apps according to your circumstances and budget for hourly rates (comparing freelancers, if possible). We advise beginning with a wireframe and establishing the target audience fundamentals before moving on to more pixel-perfect designs; this helps streamline the app development process.

As long as they are made early, app development faults in the agile stage are not penalized, whether cross-platform, iOS, or Android. They will even assist in directing you to your desired result. If you’re interested in a rapid prototyping app, get in touch with Trango Tech, the leading prototype mobile app development company, to get started with your app design prototype cost. Whether you have ideas for a small app, a mid-sized app, or a big-size app, TrangoTech will use the best sprint approach to turn it into a functioning app prototype in a week! The time estimate for your app design, prototype cost, development costs, and cost for prototype UI UX design; can be finalized through their support chat.

Frequently Asked Questions on Mobile App Prototypes (FAQs):

1. What is the process of making a prototype of your mobile app?

The process of creating a prototype of a mobile app typically involves the following steps:

  • Define the purpose and goals of the app: Before you start prototyping, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want your app to do and why. This will help you focus on the features and functionality that are most important and ensure that your prototype aligns with your overall vision for the app.
  • Create a wireframe or mockup: A wireframe is a simple visual representation of the layout and structure of your app. It shows the position of different screens and the relationships between them, but does not include any actual content or design elements. You can create a wireframe using a tool like Balsamiq or InVision, or even just on paper.
  • Design the user interface: Once you have a wireframe in place, you can start designing the user interface (UI) of your app. This involves choosing colors, fonts, and other design elements, as well as creating visual assets like icons and images.
  • Build the prototype: There are a variety of tools and platforms available for building mobile app prototypes, such as InVision, Adobe XD, and Marvel. These tools allow you to take your wireframe and UI designs and turn them into a functional prototype that you can test and iterate on.
  • Test and iterate: Once you have a working prototype, it’s important to test it with real users to see how it performs in the real world. This will help you identify any problems or areas for improvement, and allow you to make changes and iterate on the design until you have a product that meets your goals.

2. How long does it take to build an app prototype?

The amount of time it takes to build an app prototype can vary significantly depending on a number of factors, including the complexity of the app, the number of features and screens that need to be designed, the skills and experience of the team working on the prototype, and the tools and resources that are available.

In general, it’s possible to build a basic app prototype in a few days or weeks, but more complex prototypes may take several months to develop. The best way to get a more accurate estimate of how long it will take to build an app prototype is to work with an experienced mobile app development agency that can assess the specific requirements of your project and provide a more accurate timeline.

3. What guarantees that the mobile app prototype is functioning per requirements?

There are several key steps that can be taken to ensure that a mobile app prototype functions as intended and meets the requirements of the project. Some of these steps include:

  • Defining clear requirements: Before beginning work on the prototype, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what the app is intended to do and what features and functionality it should have. This can be done through the use of a functional specification document or a similar document that outlines the requirements of the app in detail.
  • Conducting user research: It’s important to understand the needs and expectations of the app’s intended users in order to design a prototype that meets their needs. User research can help to identify any potential issues or challenges that may need to be addressed during the prototype development process.
  • Prototyping and testing: Building and testing a prototype is an essential step in the app development process. Prototyping allows developers to see how the app will function in practice and identify any issues or problems that need to be addressed. Testing the prototype with a small group of users can also help to ensure that it meets the needs and expectations of the intended audience.
  • Iterative development: It’s rare for a prototype to be perfect on the first try, so it’s important to be prepared to iterate and make changes as needed. By working in an iterative manner, developers can continually improve and refine the prototype until it meets the desired level of quality and functionality.

Overall, the key to ensuring that a mobile app prototype functions as intended is to have a clear understanding of the requirements, conduct thorough testing and user research, and be prepared to iterate and make changes as needed.

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