Lesssons learned from building a prototype

This quarter I created a prototype for a web app called Healthify. This application allows people to find and easily modify recipes in real-time to make them healthier. The goal of the app is to encourage individuals to try healthier recipes through a user interface that encourages experimentation and gives immediate feedback of the benefits of healthier ingredients.

I learned a lot during the creation of this web app. First, I learned the value of working through the higher level concepts of an idea before diving into the details. As a developer I have a bad habit of rushing to coding as soon as possible. However, this tends to result in creating products that are poorly thought out and have little value to the end user. Working through the higher level ideas of the app and considering the goals and needs of the user allowed me to create a prototype that fit better with what the user desires.

I also learned the value of iteration. Forcing myself through the cycle of making, evaluating, and refine allowed me to see the issues with my app earlier and work through them. If I didn’t move through this process the value of Healthify as a product would have been questionable at best.

Finally, I learned that explicitly wire framing every screen of my application saves on valuable development time. I have a bad habit of coding too quickly and then making poor interaction decisions which I need to redo later. Making every frame allows me to quickly see the issues with the app and then change them before I spent time coding.

However, there are a couple things I would do differently next time. First, I would not create my prototype in HTML. I wasted way too much time fiddling around with random bugs. Also, I realized that potential clients would not appreciate all my extra effort anyway since the end result is visually indistinct from other types of digital prototypes. Next time I will strongly consider making a clickable PDF instead since it creates the same effect for end users with significantly less development time.

Secondly, I would show my idea to more people during the development process. After my final presentation of Healthify I received a couple ideas for my app that I wish I discovered sooner in the ideation process. Next time I will try to get as much feedback as possible to improve my app’s experience.

Overall I am very excited how Healthily turned out. Through rapidly iteration I was able to create a working prototype of a product that I feel has real value to people who want to eat healthier. In the coming months I hope to build Healthify into a real product that encourages people to try baking with healthier food choices.

View the Healthify work flow pdf >

View the live Healthify web app prototype >