Why Developers & Designers Need Animated Prototypes

August 06, 2021


Why Developers & Designers Need Animated Prototypes

Devs and designers can benefit hugely from animated prototypes. Here’s how these tools streamline the dev and design process dramatically.

How Developers and Designers Can Use Animated Prototypes in the Design Process

One of the trickiest parts of designing apps is trying to collaborate with other designers, developers, and clients. The process of interface development is intricate. In today’s tech-driven world, relying on old-fashioned techniques to create an up-to-date product simply doesn’t work.

These days, designers and developers have access to a range of advanced tools to aid them in their creative process. One of these is the animated prototype: an effective technique of previewing and fine-tuning an interface or app at every stage of the design process.

The Basics of Animated Prototypes

An animated prototype is essentially a mock-up of a digital product. It allows designers and developers to test-drive apps and interfaces during the development and/or design process.

Rather than a hand-drawn sketch, an animated prototype demonstrates the full design, including transitions and interactive elements. Developers and designers sometimes have a hard task trying to explain to clients (and to colleagues) the finer details of the interfaces and apps they’ve produced. This is why an animated model is so valuable.

Many different kinds of designers and developers make use of animated prototypes. Motion designers, UX (user experience) and UI (user interface) designers, animators, and web designers can all benefit from using this tool in their development process.

Wireframes vs. Prototypes

Many design professionals have become accustomed to working with wireframes as part of their creative process, but animated prototypes can offer benefits that static wireframes cannot. Even high-fidelity wireframes, while conveying a very accurate idea of the product, lack the interactive element provided by animated prototypes.

Despite requiring a bit of extra effort to create, animated prototypes can save designers and developers a lot of time and money in the long run.

Are Animated Prototypes Worth the Effort?

The fact that animated prototypes require more work than more basic or low-fidelity wireframes shouldn’t put you off. The extra effort is definitely worth it when it comes to designing or developing an app or other interface.

Communication is an issue in every industry, but especially in the more creative fields. Usually when an app is built, multiple designers and developers need to collaborate, which requires a lot of discussion and compromise. Animated prototypes, unlike static sketches and wireframes, can allow different members of a team to communicate faster and more effectively through showing rather than explaining.

Why You Should Use Animated Prototypes

UI design is a growing industry, and tools such as animated prototypes are vital for developers and designers wanting to keep up with the times.

Better communication

Transitions, movements and interactive functions of a product are extremely difficult to demonstrate with a sketch (pen and paper or digital) or static wireframe.

Designers need to communicate their ideas to others involved in the development of products, as well as communicate with clients accurately and comprehensively. Much of the time, however, trying to describe a fully functional interface in words is simply not enough to give a client a good idea of the product they’re purchasing.

While a sketch or wireframe can convey some details, such as typography and colors, an animated prototype demonstrates how all those individual elements come together to form a functional interface.

Saving Time

Using animated prototypes to communicate concepts to colleagues and clients can help designers and developers save time throughout the design and development process. At a glance, it can seem like the process of creating these prototypes takes more time. But using them can actually make the development process run more smoothly. 

Instead of spending time trying to describe all the details of an app, a designer can use an animated prototype to demonstrate their ideas and plans. 

Uncover Problems Early-On in the Design Process

The development of any digital product (apps, websites, etc.) takes time and requires money. Whether you’re building a website or baking a cake, reaching the end of any process only to realize you’ve left out one of the main ingredients is beyond frustrating.

UI and UX designers need to know exactly how a product works every step of the way, and overlooking early problems can be catastrophic. The saying, “prevention is better than cure,” is certainly true in the design world.

Put Designers and Developers in Control

All designers and developers love being in control. Using animated prototypes allows them to oversee the design and development process from beginning to end.

Collaboration and efficient communication are far easier to achieve when using animated prototypes. They enable designers and clients to work together, in a sense, to produce what is required.

This kind of prototype also allows designers and developers to zoom in on different aspects of an interface or app to work on finer details and troubleshoot issues. Even the smallest details are easier to refine and perfect before they’re put properly into production.

Easy to Test Drive the Product

Many clients need quite a lot of encouragement when it comes to investing their time and money in a product. Using animated prototypes allows developers and clients to test drive products and assess their functionality before finalization.

Running through transitions and interactive elements of an interface or app allows all parties involved the opportunity to provide feedback in real time. The test drive phase isn’t only a great selling point, it also ensures that all expectations are met and the client doesn’t feel they've been oversold on an idea, or that the concept doesn't match up to the execution.

An Important Tool

In 2021, digital design involves animation by default; the process of creating a product through rough sketches alone is on the way out. Designing an app or interface still requires thorough planning before working with animated prototypes, but it makes no sense to leave out such an effective tool.

There are many tools available to help designers and developers create animated prototypes and use them effectively. Some are free to use, while others cost money, but they can all make the process just a little easier.

Using animated prototypes is an extremely effective way for designers and developers to improve the process of creating apps and interfaces—a valuable method of streamlining a complex operation.