Currently, we are living through a digital transformation process that makes more and more companies require digital services. A clear example occurs with the prototyping services of applications, necessary for those companies that want to launch a digital service to the market.
Now, do you know what they are and when they can be useful? Below, we will give you all the information on this subject. Read on!
What are Prototyping Services?
First and foremost, you need to understand what exactly prototyping services are. According to UX Planet, it is an experimental process, where designers put different ideas into practice, to form what will be the basis of a project, which a client (or team leader) must then validate.
However, to what extent is it “experimental”? In many cases, it’s the clients themselves who define the work path that the developers will have to implement. For this reason, the margin for creativity is sometimes limited, being the work team the only one responsible for materializing these previous ideas.
For this reason, a prototype of an application consists of all the phases of the design of a service. In other words: it will not only seek to generate creativity in the idea but also the functionality. After all, the end user will want a usable service, right? Precisely, in these services, it will be necessary to polish the UX and UI sections.
But that will take a long time. First and foremost, the basis of the whole service will have to be designed. When contracting this kind of service, you will always start with the main thing. The reason? Well, a prototype seeks to demonstrate what is the “essence” of a certain service, because later details will be polished and added.
Continuing with the previous case: if you want an application for your customers to request appointments, the priority is that this feature is present and works well. Then, if you want to add a “news” section, it will be something secondary, to be polished later. For this reason, the prototype always focuses on the primary aspects of your service.
Prototyping phase: what do you need to know?
There are different phases of application prototyping. Here we will explain them all.
Creation of a design vision
At this point, you will have to present a design proposal. What are the objectives of this development? As a client, you will surely come up with many ideas, but it is also key that the specialized team guides you so that you know to what extent your ideas can be materialized.
Implementation of key functionalities
Once the vision of the job is created, focus on the key features. It is a mistake to believe that the prototype should be identical to the final product. It should be proof that the most important features can be executed. Then, there will be time to redesign many aspects.
Next, all these features will need to be programmed. This is usually the longest stage of the whole process and the time will depend on the functionalities you want to include. In all cases, it will be essential to be guided through this process, so that you can be aware of all the issues you need to discover.
Testing and returns
Once it is created, the team will test all the functions on its own. The idea is to reduce or eliminate all possible problems, to ensure that the prototype is ready and functional. Once this is done, they will hand it over to you and you will give feedback. You can also contribute ideas to improve the UX or UI!
What are the benefits of prototypes?
Do you want to know the benefits of relying on this kind of app prototyping? Here are the main ones.
Detection of errors in design
This is an essential aspect. It is preferable to detect a design error when prototyping than to find it when the application is almost complete. If there is a mistake at this stage, it will be possible to fix the errors and achieve a consistent final product, preventing possible major problems.
Improving the UX/UI and differentiating the primary and secondary
The team will focus on the essential features of the application. In this way, they will try to make the essentials work. Once this is defined, all efforts will be focused on improving the UX and UI, something that will guarantee the success of your service. For this reason, organizing work processes according to the importance of each stage is a great advantage.
Constant feedback and room for improvement
In the same way, having an initial demo of the work will allow you to give initial feedback. Is there a feature that you don’t like or that you want to modify? Don’t worry: you can make all the comments you think necessary so that the final version of your application is the one you were looking for.
In short, prototyping services can be an excellent resource for all those who want to achieve good results with quality mobile applications. We hope this article has been of interest to you!
Have you ever wondered what prototype tools are for? Well, all developers know that client deliveries involve a lot of processes. After all, you have to think of an idea, then develop it and polish it over time. But what do you do when a customer needs a working “first draft” to get a glimpse of what a final version would look like?
This is where the development prototype can be an extremely valuable resource that you should take into account. Next, we will tell you what this format is used for. You will even discover many useful tools for your future developments.
What exactly is a prototype and what is it for?
According to Uxpin, we can classify a proof of concept as a prototype. For example, if you have to make an e-commerce store for a client, he will probably demand a sample of the work. However, you imagine that you can’t rush development times or make complete software.
For example, the products will not be loaded on the Internet, the user experience will not be adequate and there will not be many functionalities that will be in the final version. Therefore, a prototype aims to be a sample of different essential features of a digital service.
Making a prototype can provide the following benefits:
Bug testing. If some functionality does not fit well in the prototype version, see if it can be implemented in the final version. In this way, you can reduce customer expectations with a clear example.
Lower investment. The prototype allows you to avoid large investments in a product that users may not always like. On the other hand, if they ask you for a prototype, they will see if the development is adequate or not.
Risk reduction. For developers, making a final version without a prototype means not knowing if the final product will live up to expectations. Therefore, the prototype serves to measure the viability of a project and lower the risk.
Improve the final product. According to the Study website, if the prototype is successful, you will know the way forward. In this way, future errors can be solved, what can be improved can be optimized.
The best prototype tools for all your developments
Now, you know what a development prototype is for. So, do you want to know what tools can help you? Here are some of the best ones:
Justinmind is a very useful tool for website prototyping, but that’s not all. It also works wonders for software applications and mobile apps. This software can work with Windows and Mac, but also Android and iOS. The application can be divided into two parts:
The first one is the dynamic panels, which allow you to place several elements in the same area. Thus, you can simulate buttons, tab changes, or all kinds of content that are dynamically modified.
The second is events. These are the actions of the elements that were formed in the design.
You can use a free version. However, the Pro version is cheap and you can also add new features.
Origami is a piece of software that allows you to create different prototypes. In case you didn’t know, it is owned by Facebook and is generally used for mockups of its applications, such as Instagram and Messenger. Anyway, it is usually used for iOS apps, because it has direct integration with Apple Quartz Composer.
One of its most important features is the plugins for Sketch and Photoshop. In addition, it tries to function as a library for the developer, since it has different resources, such as forums, tutorials, and guides. In addition, you can export the project to code, to convert a visual design into written code.
InVision is one of the most innovative tools in terms of development projects. It is software that also allows you to manage the project in all its stages. This situation means that it works from the mockup creation phases to the final touches of the development.
In Vision stands out for being extremely intuitive. One of its greatest strengths is that you can share and comment on a project in real-time with the client. As a result, feedback arrives efficiently, as processes are streamlined. It even allows you to synchronize Photoshop or Illustrator files.
It has a trial version, in which you can use up to 5 projects. In case you have more work to do, you can become a premium account. After all, it will always improve all your developments.
In short, you have seen that prototype tools are essential in all your developments. You can try any of this software to see an improvement in productivity and customer satisfaction.
Mobile First is a web design and layout trend aimed at prioritizing display on mobile devices. The pages of a website are designed for smartphones and tablets and then they are adapted to desktop format. This design philosophy is extremely important today, mainly for the following reasons:
It is essential that users feel comfortable when they visit your website, that the design is attractive, friendly and useful. The goal is always to enhance user experience. In this sense, the mobile approach can help you prevent some mistakes that designers often make when adapting their platforms to mobile.
At Huenei we have extensive experience working on mobile development for our clients. Would you like to know about our works? We’d like to briefly tell you about some of them …
Falabella Mobile. We worked on the development of a native e-commerce application for different operation systems for Falabella, one of the main retailers in Latin America.
This is a very common question and possibly a doubt that arises when analyzing the definition we provide above. The answer is: No, mobile first is not the same as responsiveness.
Responsive design is an opposite design philosophy. It focuses on adapting to mobile format the content of a web page that was originally designed for desktop. These are adaptive web pages –for example, the resolution and the size of the content are reduced. On the other hand, the mobile first concept seeks to improve the web experience for phone and tablet users. Its main objective is for the mobile user to have the same browsing experience as a user who is from their desktop would have. Everything has to adapt: buttons, images, links, etc.
Mobile First and its relationship with Apps.
This design philosophy is especially reflected in the development of mobile applications. Depending on the operating system, an app follows a series of visual standards that allow optimal performance and design in the phone and tablet environments. The user interface of an app is extremely important for user experience, so we recommend taking into account the user’s profile and the specific needs of the operating system. It is important to consider simplicity. You can differentiate your app from others by stripping unnecessary elements, privileging content and usefulness.
Mobile UI trends.
First of all, there are certain general trends in mobile interface design that have gained popularity in recent years due to the improvement in the experience they offer to users. Users got used to applications and web pages designed from these principles.
Minimalism: less is more. Minimalism is a trend that in recent years has become stronger and stronger. It refers to the graphic elements taken to their minimum expression in terms of textures and colors. Any decorative element that is not necessary to convey the message is eliminated.
Dark mode is here to stay. This functionality was created so that users could use their cell phones in low light environments, but evidence shows that many choose to use their phone in dark mode regardless of the lighting conditions. This trend has been increasing and generating a great impact. In addition to reducing battery consumption, dark backgrounds allow other elements to stand out more, creating a higher contrast ratio.
Minimalism Example by Anteelo
Dark Mode Example by 9TO5Google
We’d also like to tell you about trends related to the optimization of user waiting and the manipulation and use of apps and web pages.
Animations and transition effects to liven up the wait. By incorporating effects and entertaining elements into the loading of apps and websites, user waiting can become a dynamic way to guide the navigation flow.
As a general conclusion of what we were discussing, we could say that nowadays the design of platforms must be primarily focused phones and tablets. In this sense, we need to plan our designs specifically for mobile devices. Desktop is still an important screen, but we have to focus especially on mobile devices to achieve a better user experience.
Nowadays, platforms such as websites, apps, management systems, among others, play a fundamental role in the day-to-day life of your organization. A website, for example, helps you gain customer trust and visibility. When someone hears something about your brand, the first thing they do is search for it on the internet. And if your website is friendly and attractive, you already have some points earned.
It is also important to have an effective user interface and an appropriate design of the experience in business management systems. ERP, CRM, SCM, are acronyms that are heard a lot in companies. Its objective is to optimize the work of employees and the organization in different key areas, such as production, supply chain, marketing, customer relations… User interfaces centered on experience can help your employees to work efficiently and, then, deliver greater value for your customers.
UI/UX Design: What is UX and how is it related to UI?
User experience (UX) focuses on how a person feels about using a product or service. It highlights the experiential, affective, significant and valuable aspects of user interaction. It covers all aspects of the end-user interaction with the company, its services and its products. It is subjective in nature, because it deals with an individual’s performance, feelings, and thoughts about a system. It defines the user’s path as they interact with the design, form, and functionality of the platform.
The user interface (UI) is the means by which a user interacts with a device. It includes all the elements, such as buttons and controls, of the interface of a web or app. An interface developed from a UI approach will surely have also been planned with user experience in mind.
The ultimate goal of a UI/UX design is to develop an excellent user experience when using the interface of the website, app or program. In this sense, it is important to consider different dimensions that interact with the user: words, visual representations (such as graphics, illustrations, and other elements), different spaces in the interface, usage time and, of course, user behavior.
A clear example of UI/UX design is the mobile app we developed for YPF Argentina. This project was focused on improving user experience through a mobile application for oil supply inventory management.
What should be taken into account regarding UI/UX design?
Interface design focused on user experience should follow the following principles:
Structure. The layout should organize the user interface in a meaningful and useful way. This relates to the general architecture of the user interface.
Simplicity. The design should facilitate simple and common tasks, communicate clearly and simply with the user’s own language, and provide accesses that are meaningful and related to the main processes.
Visibility. The design must make visible all the options and materials necessary to be able to carry out a task without the user being distracted by other types of information. Good design doesn’t overwhelm users with alternatives nor confuse them with unnecessary information.
Feedback. The design must keep users informed of the actions carried out and changes in the status of the process. It is also important to inform the user about errors or exceptions that are relevant through clear, concise and familiar language.
Tolerance. The design must be flexible and tolerant, reducing errors and redundancy for the user.
Key considerations for UI/UX Design.
Personas and scenarios.
The creation of personas or archetypes is a staple tool in UX, mainly because it can help you visualize who the user you are designing for is. The persona methodology consists of determining, through prior research, a semi-fictional representation of the ideal user. It is about “putting faces and eyes” on the people who are going to use the platform. In turn, we need to place this persona in the potential scenarios of use of the platform. The scenarios are the situations in which the user finds himself, for example, an employee who receives a complaint from a client and needs to register it in the CRM platform, or one who has a shortage of stock due to a malfunction of his SCM system.
Persona example by Adobe
Responsiveness of the platform.
We know that users work in different screens, so the design has to be responsive, that is, able to adapt and be used in a variety of screens.
Illustration by Surfthedream
Platforms need to adapt to both desktop and mobile versions. But the mobile environment represents a number of design challenges. For that, it is necessary to consider some tips to offer a good mobile experience:
Offer simplified navigation.
Restrict to the minimum amount of possible actions.
Guarantee continuity and consistency in navigation.
Anticipate potential errors by conducting usability tests.
In our recent project for Exolgan, we developed a corporate web portal, which offers an optimal experience on the different screens. You can reed more on it here.
Quick UI tests with users.
Thanks to the contribution of Jacob Nielsen in his paper “Discount Usability for the Web,” the UX world has been using different techniques for many years to simplify the process and reduce the costs of usability testing. Nielsen created a simple and practical way to perform informal testing, which consists of conducting a quick test on a small group of five users. According to the author in the paper, with five users we can detect 85% of usability errors.
The test consists of developing a navigable wireframe, which could be built on paper or with the help of prototyping tools, and then testing it with users. What will be sought is to know the user’s first impression of the interface and understand how it interacts with it, to detect opportunities for improvement. This stage of the process is similar to the prototyping and testing phases of the design thinking methodology.
As you can see from what we discussed in this article, UI/UX design is essential for all types of companies. Platforms must have friendly and efficient interfaces, and the user experience must be the focus of the design. The benefits for organizations are varied and there are methodologies, like the ones we use at Huenei, that can help you achieve the perfect development.
Options for development with FPGAs
Historically, working with FPGAs has always been associated with the need for a Hardware developer, mainly Electronic Engineers, and the use of tools and Hardware Description Languages (HDL), such as VHDL and Verilog (of the concurrent type in instead of sequential), very different from those used in the field of Software development. In recent years, a new type of application has appeared, acceleration in data centers, which aims to reduce the gap between the Hardware and Software domains, for the cases of computationally demanding algorithms, with the processing of large volumes of data.
Applying levels of abstraction, replacing the typical HDL with a subset of C / C ++ combined with OpenCL, took the development to a more familiar environment for a Software developer. Thus, basic blocks (primitives) are provided, for Mathematical, Statistical, Linear Algebra, and Digital Signal Processing (DSP) applications. However, this alternative still requires a deep knowledge of the hardware involved, to achieve significant accelerations and higher performance.
Secondly, there are accelerated libraries of specific domains, for solutions in Finance, Databases, Image, and Video Processing, Data Compression, Security, etc. They are of the plug-and-play type and can be invoked directly with an API from our applications, written in C / C ++ or Python, requiring the replacement of “common” libraries with accelerated versions.
Finally, we will describe the main ones in this article, there are open source libraries and frameworks, which were accelerated by third parties. This allows us, generally running one or more Docker instances (on-premise or in the cloud), to accelerate Machine Learning applications, Image processing, and Databases, among others, without the need to change the code of our application.
Without a doubt, one of the most disruptive technological advances in recent years has been Machine Learning. Hardware acceleration brings many benefits, due to the high level of parallelism and the enormous number of matrix operations required. They are seen both in the training phase of the model (reducing times from days to hours or minutes) and in the inference phase, enabling real-time applications.
Here is a small list of the accelerated options available:
TensorFlow is a platform for building and training neural networks, using graphs. Created by Google, it is one of the leading Deep Learning frameworks.
Keras is a high-level API for neural networks written in Python. It works alone or as an interface to frameworks such as TensorFlow (with whom it is usually used) or Theano. It was developed to facilitate a quick experimentation process, it provides a very smooth learning curve.
PyTorch is a Python library designed to perform numerical calculations via tension programming. Mainly focused on the development of neural networks.
Deep Learning Framework noted for its scalability, modularity and high-speed data processing.
Scikit-learn is a library for math, science, and engineering. Includes modules for statistics, optimization, integrals, linear algebra, signal and image processing, and much more. Rely on Numpy, for fast handling of N-dimensional matrices.
XGBoost (Extreme Gradient Boosting), is one of the most used ML libraries, very efficient, flexible and portable.
Spark MLlib is Apache Spark’s ML library, with scaled and parallelized algorithms, taking advantage of the power of Spark. It includes the most common ML algorithms: Classification, Regression, Clustering, Collaborative Filters, Dimension Reduction, Decision Trees, and Recommendation. It can batch and stream. It also allows you to build, evaluate, and tune ML Pipelines.
Image and Video Processing
Image and Video Processing is another of the areas most benefited from hardware acceleration, making it possible to work in real-time on tasks such as video transcoding, live streaming, and image processing. Combined with Deep Learning, it is widely used in applications such as medical diagnostics, facial recognition, autonomous vehicles, smart stores, etc.
The most important library for Computer Vision and Image and Video Processing is OpenCV, open source, with more than 2500 functions available. There is an accelerated version of its main methods, adding more version after version.
For Video Processing, in tasks such as Transcoding, Encoding, Decoding and filtering, FFmpeg is one of the most used tools. There are accelerated plugins, for example for decoding and encoding H.264 and other formats. In addition, it supports the development of its own accelerated plugins.
Databases and analytics
Databases and Analytics receive increasingly complex workloads, mainly due to advances in Machine Learning, which forces an evolution of the Data Center. Hardware acceleration provides solutions to computing (for example with database engines that work at least 3 times faster) and storage (via SSD disks that incorporate FPGAs between their circuits, with direct access to data processing). the data). Some of the Accelerated Databases, or in the process of being so, mainly Open Source both SQL and NoSQL, are PostgreSQL, Mysql, Cassandra, and MongoDB.
In these cases, generally what is accelerated are the more complex low-level algorithms, such as data compression, compaction, aspects related to networking, storage, and integration with the storage medium. The accelerations reported are in the order of 3 to 10 times faster, which compared to improvements of up to 1500 times in ML algorithms may seem little, but they are very important for the reduction of costs associated with the data center.
Throughout this series of 4 articles, we learned what a device-level FPGA is, how acceleration is achieved when we are in the presence of a possible case that takes advantage of them (computationally complex algorithms, with large volumes of data). General cases of your application and particular solutions, ready to use without code changes.
How can Huenei help your business with Hardware Acceleration with FPGAs?
Infrastructure: Definition, acquisition and start-up (Cloud & On-promise).
Consulting: Consulting and deployment of available frameworks, to obtain acceleration without changes in the code.
Development: Adaptation of existing software through the use of accelerated libraries, to increase its performance.
User Story Mapping is a visual exercise often performed by product managers and their application development or web development teams to define the work that will create the most enjoyable, optimal, and agile user experience.
In other words, it is an agile and powerful product design method that is used to create a user-centered product, that is, they are the visual aid to build a shared understanding between the members of a web or application development project, to learn how to develop a successful design process.
This type of method is used to improve the understanding of the teams of their clients and to prioritize the work of all the development teams, where they create a dynamic diagram of the interactions of a representative user with the product, evaluating what steps the greater benefit for the user and prioritizing what should be built next.
In this case, this process always begins with the understanding of a problem and at the same time, knowing the user’s objectives, allowing to centrally draw the steps that this user will go through to achieve their objectives and thus narrate a natural narrative flow. user journey to explore all user activity easily.
Basic elements of a User Story Mapping
In order to know how to elaborate a User Story Mapping, it is important to know what are the structural elements that organize this type of design, that is why in Huenei IT Services we first present their names and in this way, you will be able to better understand each of the steps.
Next, the basic elements of this type of design, which, when organized in two dimensions (the vertical denotes priority, while the horizontal represents the steps a user takes to perform actions in the system, also known as the user’s journey or Buyer’s journey, allow a simple and clear reading of the general structure:
In English, you will find it as “Backbone” and this is the base of the map, it consists of epics or themes that describe the general activities of the user in the system, such as “Search Products”, in this case, the epics are organized in horizontal order, as they represent the steps a user takes while interacting with the product, which is basically a simple visualization of the user’s journey.
In order to better understand the concepts of epics and epics within this structure, it is important to know that the epic represents the User Story so large as to be able to accommodate multiple stories and the epic refers to when multiple epics are held in and of themselves.
2) User Stories
Also known as “Stories” and unlike a flat backlog structure, user stories are organized in vertical and horizontal dimensions.
In this case, they are grouped into corresponding epics, which describe more specific tasks that a user may require. If an epic describes a search phase, it can include stories like basic search, filter products, advanced search, etc. When stories are vertically prioritized, they can be broken into releases.
It refers to the fictitious people who will use the product, that is, they will carry out the steps described in the user stories.
This element is provided by UX specialists or by the marketing department and will serve as the basis for the map, since not knowing who the users are, it will be impossible to understand the epics of the product and, therefore, will lose the whole point of the story mapping.
By having user people or talking to UX staff, you can define who are the people who will perform certain actions in the system.
Guide to develop a User Story Mapping
Making a User Story Mapping will be as varied and different according to the size of your team, the scope and duration of a project, and the maturity phase of the product.
However, this is a process that must be carried out, especially when optimal results are expected from start to finish, and for this, the best time to start making it is when you have met all the product requirements and defined the equipment to the project, already knowing what the backbone is, the stories of the users and the users, it is easier to carry out these steps.
Step 1: Set the objectives of the project
First of all, focus on the potential customers of your business and summarize what goals these customers can achieve through the use of your product, write each of the goals and organize them in the logical order, you can use stickers or do it on aboard.
Step 2: Create the trip map
After collecting the objectives, it accounts for the user’s journey to achieving the objective, identifies the steps and avoids errors by faithfully following the narrative flow, to organize it closer to reality, placing the steps on the second line, step by step.
Step 3: Find solutions
Through this process, you create “user stories”, initially, you can use the following template: As a user – I Want This Goal – So the step is this.
Brainstorm with your team to collect most of the possible solutions and put all the user stories in the related steps.
Step 4: Organize the tasks according to their priority
If the brainstorming team was successful, then the story map should be full of great ideas, however, these stories cannot be run at the same time so in this step, you determine the different priority levels.
Identify the most common behavior or basic solution to the problem, so you organize user stories by priority and put the most important one at the top of the column.
Discussing customer priorities is crucial, so make sure you stay connected to your partners.
Step 5: Determine the launch structure
To do this, it initially indicates the smallest part of the product, the minimum viable product, and tries to complete the user’s journey starting with the most common or easiest tasks to carry out.
In this part, just focus on completing at least one user journey, after that, organize the rest of the accumulated work into tangible pieces by drawing horizontal lines between tasks.
By adding estimates to user stories, you can plan and schedule the entire development process version by version.
All the steps in this guide to elaborate a User Story Mapping are important, especially the latter represents one of the most important pieces of information in the whole process because it not only represents a crucial phase of the map but also because it will help you calculate the delivery time and costs.
The most important thing is to always keep in mind the end-user experience since their level of satisfaction and adoption are key in the success of the development, as well as in the fulfillment of the business objectives.
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