A prototype is basically a preliminary model with which the development team can build other forms from. It can be a simple sketch of the product interface or an interactive model. Generally, development teams refer to working, interactive models as prototypes.

The prototype enables the development team to visualize how the product will function and give them ideas to come up with an interactive user interface and deliver the best user experience possible. Errors can be tested and identified early on in the development phase subsequently maximizing the development efficiency right from the beginning itself.

In this blog, we will take a look at 5 best practices for mobile app prototyping.

Planning ahead

The prototype is meant to give the team a better understanding of the end users’ problems so they can determine how the mobile app would address and solve those problems. This is why it’s important to define features and ideas that the team want to test out in the form of a prototype. Once that’s done, the team should make a plan that sets some time apart for developing the prototype without delaying the project. Once the prototype’s ready, it can be sent out for feedback with which the team can make adequate improvements on the product.

Reduce design details as much as possible

 As mentioned above, a prototype is basically just an outline to envision the end product, which means it doesn’t need to have a lot of design elements in it like color, fonts, animations and other effects. A good practice is to reduce the use of those design details that aren’t essential to the app’s functionality. The idea isn’t to test out the effectiveness of design elements.

Make a list of priority features

Another good practice before building a prototype is to make a list of the features that you want to test out in the prototype, and then prioritize them. While making this list, the team should take into account various factors like the main problem of the end users that the app will solve and how the app will solve it. Include only the prioritized features on the prototype.

Map the end user’s journey

Every mobile app should be built with the users in mind. This applies to the prototype as well. It’s important to look at a product from the perspective of a user before beginning development. It should begin from when a user launches an app through to the end goal which can be anything from making a purchase to using the app to fulfill a purpose like scanning or uploading documents. Such a prototype will provides insights on designing the app to be convenient to users.

Gather feedback

Feedback for prototypes is how the ideas included in the prototype are validated or invalidated. Based on this feedback, the prototype can be updated with improvements and retested. Each iteration of the prototype reveals errors to fix and opportunities to improve.

Conclusion

Prototyping should be an important part of the mobile app design process to allow the development team to understand user needs better and determine the right set of product functions for the final version before starting production.

If you have any questions regarding prototyping and app development, get in touch with the app development experts at AOT.

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Almost every tech companies are now aware that this is the age of DevOps; evident from the widespread adoption of the methodology to improve business productivity, resiliency and scalability. The most popular cloud computing services like Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure offer services to optimize DevOps environments of organizations in more ways than one. Today, organizations can choose the right set of cloud services that grant them the benefits of a public cloud infrastructure to meet their business goals or, in some cases, exceed them.

But obviously such services won’t fit all kinds of companies or all apps used by an organization. But there are ways to optimize DevOps ecosystems on the cloud. And this blog will explore the benefits and limitations associated with this optimization on AWS infrastructure.

AWS & DevOps

AWS makes it very easy to set up services; simply by starting an account. The tech giant has formed partnerships with hundreds of service providers over the years to offer users access to a number of useful tools – Slack for collaboration, GitHub for version management, Splunk for data visualization etc.

With AWS, application development, testing and maintenance of applications are much easier. The service also comes with impressive data storage capabilities. In a nutshell, an organization can start with a fully developed, optimized infrastructure. The pay-as-you-go pricing model is the cherry on top.

What makes AWS DevOps different

Despite all its vast benefits, there are still many companies that don’t use AWS for DevOps. This is primarily attributed to the fact that AWS offers a public cloud environment with access to a plethora of tools. Because many off-the-shelf solutions are available, many companies opt for custom solutions that they can develop and run themselves while many other companies are simply reluctant due to their concerns on running DevOps in a public cloud infrastructure.

Here are a few of those concerns.

  • Security – AWS offers reliable security particularly for your organization’s data – giving you control over who uses that data and how they use it. But many companies often have their own policies regarding the maintenance of sensitive data which simply doesn’t fit with AWS.
  • Customization – Developing software themselves allows companies to customize it anyway they like to meet their needs. Essentially, they can build apps that fit their business processes instead of changing their business processes to fit their tools.
  • Training – Many companies opt to invest in training their team for third-party apps instead of investing in developing and maintaining a custom solution.

Solution?

A hybrid one, of course.

One that has the best of both worlds – lying in between running a bespoke software solution and consuming the benefits of the public cloud.

For example, an organization can invest in a private cloud where they can run managed software essentially giving them more control over both data storage and security. But they will have to manage the cloud infrastructure themselves. And the customizability would be limited unlike with a custom solution.

AWS allows an organization to run their custom codes along with their services while using their cloud infrastructure. A one-size-fits-all solution doesn’t exist, and it isn’t possible to deploy and host everything on AWS. But for an organization that wants to leverage DevOps, AWS can be a great asset providing security, scalability and customizability within a reasonable budget.

Get in touch with the experts at AOT to implement DevOps today.

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DevOps generated a lot of buzz and garnered a lot of praise over the last few years. It’s expected to gain even more momentum this year. With DevOps, organizations are successfully coming out of delayed delivery cycles and are now capable of shipping products quickly.

So what is DevOps exactly?

It’s neither a set of tools nor a technology. DevOps is an approach that triggers a transformation within an organization impacting even work ethics while improving productivity and operational efficiency. The idea is to implement various beneficial concepts like automation, continuous integration & deployment, single delivery pipelines and augmented security.

Azure DevOps

DevOps’ popularity and demand resulted in a whole new level of service quality with leading service providers like Microsoft Azure embracing DevOps to offer more effective service solutions to enterprises. Azure DevOps is Microsoft’s initiative that integrates various tools provided to clients by Azure for various stages in the development lifecycle thus empowering clients and making them capable of faster, higher quality product releases.

Here are a few reasons why organizations that are yet to adopt DevOps should go for Azure DevOps.

  • Streamlined development
  • Access to a variety of tools that aid development
  • Improved communication and team collaboration
  • Deploy and distribute apps from the cloud
  • Microsoft’s expertise with DevOps

Azure Features That Could Help with DevOps

  • Azure Repos – The organization can choose from a wide array of Git repos for their project. In addition to hosting and reliable code security, Azure offers support for pull requests for projects of all sizes.
  • Azure Pipelines – A highly useful feature that allows developers to build, test and deploy from any language to any platform and the cloud. With Azure Pipelines, the development team will also be able build and push images container registries faster and easily deploy them to individual hosts or Kubernetes.
  • Azure DevTest Labs – This is an app offered to help development teams conduct planned as well as exploratory testing for products across both desktop and web applications. Data from testing is collected for further analysis to detect defects that need to be fixed.
  • Azure Boards – Azure Boards is how the organization can track a project while multiple teams are working on it. The feature helps track a board with custom reporting, backlogs, Kanban boards etc. It’s also possible to trace each item comprehensively.
  • Azure Artifacts – With Azure Artifacts, npm, Maven and NuGet package feeds can be easily imported into the DevOps dashboard from both public as well as private sources. This in turn makes it much easier not only to create packages but also to share them with team members. The ‘artifacts’ can be easily integrated to continuous integration/continuous deployment pipelines with just a click.

Implementing Azure DevOps in an Organization

Smaller organizations will find it much easier to implement Azure DevOps with the support of Microsoft’s technical experts. Larger organizations, however, will find it quite challenging to implement DevOps efficiently.

The organization should build a team of qualified experts for implementation. The first actionable step is to analyze existing processes in order to identify those that can be automated. The next step is to gather feedback that will help the company implement DevOps. Azure DevOps offers tools that can point out the areas that need to be fixed for easier implementation. Meanwhile, the feedback from the organization’s employees can be used to identify the roadblocks to adopting DevOps. The third step is to implement robust communication channels to enable complete transparency of stakeholder interactions. Effective communication also helps avoid delays in the implementation.

Continuous Deployment

There have been many studies on DevOps since its inception. Many such studies have found that increasing continuous delivery will also result in a proportional increase in business revenue. This is one benefit of a DevOps ecosystem. Continuous deployment is a key aspect of DevOps implementation. To enable continuous deployment, Azure DevOps offers a number of tools. Choosing the right tools for the job should be based on the unique problem statement and the overall goal of application development.

Here are a few of the most widely adopted tools that could come in handy.

  • Docker
  • Jira
  • Jenkins
  • Chef
  • Ansible

Conclusion

Organizations of all sizes have started investing in DevOps to secure a more productive future. Microsoft Azure DevOps can also be useful if your organization plans to offer DevOps consultation and implementation to other companies. Azure DevOps gives results. It will be staying for a while. And it’s worth investing in.

If you want to jump on the DevOps bandwagon but lack the expertise, AOT can help. Give us a call for a quick conversation.


While developing a product or service that will be used by hundreds of thousands of people, there should be commitment to quality above all. This is why testing holds the same importance and value as development. There has always been a trend where companies consistently invest money and resources in improving various aspects of their products or services.

There are many ways to test a product’s different aspects. Among all those practices, usability testing is something that cannot be ignored under any circumstances. For efficient usability testing, a tester can employ several methods. In this blog, we will be exploring 8 usability testing methods that ensure a high quality product fully ready for its intended users.

Basic Usability Testing

Usability testing is a process where the tester basically watches and tracks how an actual user interacts with the app or a website. So the tester has to be aware of everything the actual user would want to do with the app and what they expect from apps of such nature.

Moderated Usability Testing

This is somewhat a more advanced usability testing tactic employed by experienced testers who rely on live feedback from customers. The tester moderates a live session with volunteers and facilitates them through various predefined tasks. Live communication with customers is the highlight of this approach. The participants of the session aren’t provided with too much information on the app. Testers normally would want to get feedback from customers who know nothing about the app they are requested to use.

Unmoderated Usability Testing

This is basically the opposite of moderated testing. This tactic is carried out remotely and doesn’t require human moderators or testers. This is also a very common and inexpensive approach where robust feedback and results are obtained in a short span of time. However, this approach requires various tools for maximum efficiency and output.

A/B Testing

A/B testing is another commonly employed effective testing method; particularly useful when the developers can’t choose between two conflicting features or elements of the product. For A/B testing, the developers give access to the two features to equal number of users randomly. The feedback is then gathered and the feature that got the majority positive votes is taken. So essentially, the users choose the best feature out of the two conflicting ones.

Beta Testing

Beta testing is most likely the most popular usability testing approach. For beta testing, developers launch an ‘almost finished’ product while in the final stages of development. The app is given to a few selected users to use and gather critical feedback that would help the developers make some final tweaks and refinements before official release. Developers also hand out feedback questionnaire with a number of questions that users can answer and submit to the development company.

User Persona

This is a more theoretical approach where the development team creates a fictional representation of the ideal consumer. The tactic focuses on the goals of the users based on their characteristics and how they process information. This also helps the developers understand the expectations of end users regarding their product. Though this approach may appear strange, it can be a great usability testing method due to its great results.

Surveys

Usability testing is never complete without surveys. Developers gather all the required information to improve their product via questionnaires that are handed over to potential consumers for feedback. Large scale surveys are often conducted to gather lots of information that are then analyzed to define tasks and objectives that can improve the product. Various types of users are also targeted for surveys.

Field Studies

Out of all the methods mentioned in this blog, a field study is probably the most physically demanding. Not that the developers would be sweating a lot. This is a method focused on research where the developers are required to be physically present at strategically determined areas to interact directly with consumers of their product. The consumers’ opinions are noted down and questions are asked. The idea is to understand consumer demands and expectations on a deeper level with the developers directly asking consumers for clarifications when necessary.

End note

The methods mentioned in this blog can be very essential to totally succeed with usability testing. Each method serves a purpose where the development team gets a deeper understanding of what their product or service means to the targeted consumers. Efficient usability testing also raises the success rate of the product post launch.

Normally developers choose feasible testing methods depending on the project’s scale and nature. Doing this certainly requires a good amount of expertise and knowledge. At AOT, we are committed to delivering high quality products and services. And usability testing is something that we don’t ever neglect. Want to learn more about our application development methods? Drop us a message.


Back in the day, even ideas with zero validations could obtain investment in some form. If one had a revolutionary idea for a mobile or web application, presentable with a well-defined roadmap, it won’t take long for an investor to get interested in the concept enough to cut some checks.

But those days are gone today. Today, investors are keener on scaling investments i.e. they value faster organizational growth more which leads them to invest on anything that helps a company scale to meet changing needs. This is why there are more startups now more than ever. Initial market penetration, customer testing etc. will be on the backburner.

That said; let’s look at how modern businesses dominate markets. One of the greatest tools they use for this purpose is mobile apps. And when it comes to mobile app development, many businesses want their app to quickly establish a foothold within the target market. This is why they go for Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) which brings us to the topic at hand.

All MVPs don’t succeed. As a matter of fact, MVPs can fall apart and jeopardize the entire project if one overlooks a couple of things.

Here are a few reasons that could lead to a failed MVP.

An Incomplete Team – The project should obviously have a goal. To reach that goal, a team with ‘jacks of all trades’ won’t be enough. Different departments should collaborate to meet the goal. If a single person on the team multitasks various activities, the project will most likely suffer before long. A complete team is a team of experts with different skillsets capable of handling different aspects of the project – from marketing and leveraging the right technology to testing and deployment.

Overambitiousness – Many startups aim for perfection even while addressing basic project requirements. This approach is essentially a double-edged sword. For startups with budget constraints, going for a flawless product might turn out to be a bad decision. Instead, we suggest focusing on testing how the product would fare in its target market. That’s essentially the purpose of an MVP – testing user response and getting feedback to improve the product’s final version.

Even the smallest of bugs can lead to users uninstalling the app which is why it’s wise to perform extensive testing before release.

No Prototyping – The prototyping phase is where the app idea becomes a reality. This is why it’s crucial when developing an app MVP. This also contributes to a solid user experience. The key is to ensuring that prototyping has been done properly before proceeding with the development which includes interface architecture, low and high fidelity prototypes etc.

Interface architecture helps determine the right framework for the app that grants the desired amount of scalability and engagement potential. Low fidelity prototypes are generally simple, rough prototypes meant to lay the foundation to test broader, more complex concepts. The high fidelity prototype is a more complex version of the app featuring interactions and graphics. It should closely resemble the final version of the app, and should be easier for the user to navigate. A messy high fidelity prototype spells doom for the MVP.

The Wrong Methodology – Choosing the wrong methodology would certainly reduce the likelihood of the MVP’s succeeding. This is what we call the Agile age of development. Studies show that Agile methodology has a higher success rate compared to Waterfall. Moreover, Agile is faster as the developers won’t have to invest a lot of time planning. Additionally, Agile offers more flexibility and transparency when it comes to the development itself.

Ignoring User Response – Many startups often don’t take user responses into account. They instead believe in the business logic and its presumed success rate. This approach defeats the purpose of developing a Minimum Viable Product. The team should take every measure to note down all kinds of user responses – both positive and negative so as to identify the app’s potential strengths and weaknesses in its target market.

The next step is to take measures to address the negative issues, which also shows potential customers that the brand cares about their experience. Better customer retention is an added bonus of this approach. One disappointed customer can potentially deter many potential customers from even trying out the app. Once a negative review pops up, it can be quite difficult to gain the users’ trust again especially when there is tough competition.

Conclusion

An app’s MVP can be a valuable asset for a business if used wisely. One mistake can have a domino effect that could potentially end up with the brand irreversibly losing its credibility.

To build the right MVP, the developers should have ample expertise. This is where AOT shines. If you have more questions about developing an app the right way, feel free to ask our experts.

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