The Importance of Prototyping in Web Development & Design 2011
Jul 12, 2011
Close to daily, I come across really mind-blowing bleeding-edge web demos of the latest and greatest from HTML5, CSS3, jQuery and other evolving web technologies. People continue to come up with genius, creative and downright amazing innovations combining these languages.
More times than not though, there is a list of caveats with bleeding edge tests — browser incompatibilities, limitations to layout, etc. Demo A only works in Chrome. Demo B won’t work in Internet Explorer at all. Anything that can’t work nearly flawlessly across all the major browsers is a hard sell for most parties involved and can cause both bottlenecks and pains in the neck. Because of issues like these, we as web creators, need to find thorough ways to test and test early.
With browsers still innovating, and specifications playing catch-up to web browser advancements, it’s more important than ever to schedule and allow time to create prototypes of designs, user interfaces and user experiences.
Prototyping in web design and development used to mainly focus on browser compatibility in regards to layout. But with the speed at which web browsers now change, and the incongruities between what browsers support on the next generation CSS3 and HTML5 properties, prototyping has now morphed into being as much about user experience as it is about getting the layout right.
Creating these frameworks to demonstrate and analyze functionality not only can save time when actually building a given web site, it can also help designers, clients and colleagues visualize user interactions that a static wireframe or Photoshop-built design just cannot communicate fully. And that’s a real advantage and time saver when it comes time for polish and revision steps.
While it’s not always necessary to prototype, when trying something new, or at least new to you, it can be a big benefit to set expectations and boost everyone’s confidence on a given project. Anything that can help efficiency, set expectations and assist in polish will benefit everyone involved.