Rapid Prototyping - Low Code Platforms are the way to go
You are excited with your new idea and now its time to make your prototype. Your product has the market potential, you have verified that customers will pay for it, and you have a fair idea of what it looks like. You have even made mock ups and customers like it. However, you need to get something that people can put their hands on, place it out there out there for true feedback, and likely traction needs to be assessed with accuracy to determine product market fit.
The answer of course is get out a prototype in semi-working form out there. Easier said than done, since the cost of building a good prototype that can store and modify data is almost close to that of the MVP. By focusing on what you actually need to showcase, you bring down the time and cost involved to build the same. When you get down to the brass tacks, the surprising result is that low code platforms are the best way to come out with high quality navigable and semi working prototypes. Products like Mendix.com, Outsystems.com and Appian do a good job. If you are looking for budget and startup friendly low code platform, Stragiliti is a very good option.
So what are the reasons why low code platforms win hands down:
Painted, manually coded or low coded?
There are many tools what allow creation of prototypes graphically. The problem however is that one requires a high profile UI/ UX specialist to do the key elements, and manually do the non – critical interfaces. Even then would only be building a mock-up of the application, without the ability to show how to navigate beyond the surface. Mock-ups are good for portions of the application, but is not the best for showcasing serious applications. Manual coding is the next and regularly used option. Unfortunately it is laborious, takes a long time and highly resistant to change. Low code platforms however are fast, flexible and proven. One can iterate easily. It however it limited by the UI it generates as standard. One would be prudent to use whatever is the standard provided by the low code platform provider, but if it is essential replace the standard with a custom one in all the right places. Stragiliti for example has an affordable prototyping option that rapidly gets you what you want and in places where the UI is unique and different, one can built your own html later. www.Stragiliti.net for example provides auto-generation of the standard and then allows attaching of custom written html5 web pages to be integrated to the web services (REST) already available for each user interface.
Hacking it, or structuring it?
A hack is what coders like. String together screens and tables and keep hacking as features come in. May be good if one has a very good full stack developer, but even here one has limitations. Cross a certain level of complexity and these hacks become a product threatening maze. Structured approaches will make you determine use cases, define a process model and map it to he user interface. Once mapped well, low code platforms are an easy leap since these platform require you to model the application based on these structured methods. Generating the prototype is an easy step after wards. Almost all low code platforms have a form of structure, though its worth taking a look at ones where the definitions are English like as opposed to developer friendly meta entries – that way all involved can understand and collectively build the model and the application rapidly, in iterations
Without data or with data?
Prototypes that hard code data into it, to give you a sense of realism, are limited by the face that each screen can best have one data value. When you want to change the data value you cannot. With low code platforms one can put real data and retrieve it. In Stragiliti for example, you can store as many records as required, and data you have entered can be retrieved immediately and modified online. Many of the data validations like size, data types and mappings are in place. You are almost working with the real software making the prototype achieve its job of convincing prospective customers, investors and the rest of the ecosystem easy.
Fixed or changeable?
A prototype usually iterates between 4 to 10 times before one locks it. Every presentation or review gives a list of important improvements. If each change is to be manually done (artistically or by coding) it takes a long time. The net result is a compromise reducing the number of iterations to a few, and hence missing important feedback that could make the difference between success and failure. Low code platforms eliminate that risk. Stragiliti for example allows you to model the process, and UI and get an updated version in a few hours. Many rounds are easy now and that makes world of difference compared to manually coded prototypes that take weeks for each version to come out
Use of power tools
A prototype becomes even more convincing when it uses capabilities like alerts, dashboards, roles and permissions configured, views, data exports and other add on tools. If one does not use low code platforms, one makes do without all these nice to have capabilities, since it takes too long, and is too costly to manually do.
How strong is your tech team and how familiar are they with LCAP’s?
Familiarity of a team with a stack or a specific LCAP can swing productivity heavily because one avoids the learning and expertise building cycle. Similarly, corporate IT policies may drive choices to stacks. If the team is overwhelming strong in a stack or LCAP then you should consider it, but don’t make it the basis of your decision and be ready to review policy decisions since improvements in technologies are changing long held assumptions.
Thrown out, or used for production?
If you have manually drawn or coded a prototype, it is most likely to be thrown out during the stage of development of the production version. Development for production is usually different from development for prototyping since a lot of integrity, performance and quality aspects of coding are missed out while hacking a manually coded prototype. In low code platforms, the last version of the prototype is almost always the starting point of the development effort because the prototype version itself is production ready – saving a world of time and costs, and more importantly ensures that key capabilities are not lost during the redevelopment
How friendly is it on the budget?
Hackers and UI experts don’t come cheap. They may be ready to help to do a small job, but when it comes to a serious prototype or MVP they charge. Being manually done, it will be expensive. With low code platforms the subject matter expert can do the modeling themselves saving time. If the right low code platform is used the choice from a price perspective is a no brainer.
Speed to Market
All the earlier points ensure that the low code approach to prototyping is the fastest to go to market. When you are in the startup world or in the innovation a world – that could also be the difference between success and failure. Stragiliti would claim that prototypes and MVP’s will typically be 3x to 10x faster for enterprise class products.
Disclaimer: This article is written by a Stragiliti evangelist – but that should not in anyway reduce the claims made for superiority in the above points!