Proto.io: Prototyping Excellence for Mobile Apps

In the world of software development there’s a quiet battle that goes on. On one hand you have the waterfall style of development, and on the other you have agile development. Waterfall development works much like its name implies. You have a design team that designs the product. Once finished they lob it over the fence to the software developers to build. In an ideal scenario nothing is left to chance and everything is planned out exactly as it will be in the final product. In the agile world you have a list of components that the application should include. Each is built sequentially almost entirely on its own. As the product progresses it morphs and changes to accommodate the new pieces. Part of the idea behind agile development is that you can’t really plan for all the intricacies of a final product so why waste your time attempting to.

As it turns out there is a scenario where it makes a lot of sense to plan as much of the final product in advance- when working with clients. The key to managing clients is laying out as much of the final product ahead of time and getting them to sign off on it. Otherwise you’ll end up making lots of changes down the road. If you aren’t careful these changes will have to be done for free. Which brings us back to the issue that it’s exceedingly difficult to accurately design a final product with wireframes, mockups, and descriptions. Invariably as the application comes together you encounter unforeseen issues that need to be addressed. This task gets even more difficult when you’re designing for mobile apps, as they have their own set of features and limitations.

Proto.io Home

Into this complex and challenging issue in the design cycle comes Proto.io. It’s a prototyping tool that strikes at the core of the toughest design paradigm of all- the mobile space. They go far beyond providing a basic wireframe tool and static mockup builder. Proto.io allows you to create functional working prototypes for all mobile devices with specific UI elements for iPad, iPhone and Android. What’s more, they allow you to make them quickly. It addresses all the drawbacks of waterfall design with one simple tool.

Proto.io is one of those tools that’s best understood by using it. They make it easy to do since the single user license is free. There are also a couple demos posted here, both of which were built in less than four hours. You have the ability to view and work with your prototypes online, but more importantly you can use them on the device they’re targeted for. So if you’re designing an app for the iPad you can build a prototype and test it out on an actual iPad. It even accounts for the iPad specific features such as whether the screen is horizontal or vertical. It also allows you to design for the various touch events that exist in mobile devices. For those too lazy to test the demos you can watch the brief video below. Notice the soothing music while the prototype seamlessly falls into place.

The editor itself contains a drag and drop interface which requires little training or explanation. For those in need of help they can review the knowledge base of tutorials and guides. A few notable bonus features include the ability to create reusable templates and reusable containers which can be attached to any screen or template. The entire prototyping application is web based though it also includes many keyboard shortcuts for common actions. As a matter of interest, all Proto.io components render in HTML5 placing them directly on the cutting edge of the latest the web has to offer.

Proto.io is a tool brought to us by those that have been in the web development world for some time- Sideshow NetQuest. With over 14 years of web development and other digital services experience they’re familiar with the intricacies and challenges of successfully designing products. Proto.io is the culmination of their expertise and allows you to produce a working model of your mobile designs.