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New Post 1/11/2009 1:13 PM
User is offline Svarrogh
3 posts
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Prototyping - experience and tools 

Hello everyone

I would like to ask about experience with using prototype as a leverage for mutual understanding of specific requirements by client side and programmers. Is it helpful in Your oppinion ?What tools are You using ?

I experienced 2 approches : one where prototype was supported by programmers and it was fine enough till there was time to support it. It was made in JSF and started up in explorer using virtual machine. Anyway this approach collapsed due to lack of motivation to continue proto building by programmers. Second approach - when BA is making full process proto in prototype composer - this is best i experienced. I was using Serena Prototype composer and can suggest it as great and freeware tool.

Please share experience and vote for tools :)



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New Post 2/16/2009 11:41 PM
User is offline Adrian M.
764 posts
3rd Level Poster

Re: Prototyping - experience and tools 

 Svarrogh wrote

I would like to ask about experience with using prototype as a leverage for mutual understanding of specific requirements by client side and programmers. Is it helpful in Your opinion ? What tools are You using?

Hi Gregory,

Prototyping and/or other related techniques (storyboarding, mockups, etc.) are extremely effective in communicating with the stakeholders and the end users.  Text-only requirements cannot be used by themselves to ensure that the business analyst and the development team have a solid understanding of the business needs and the confidence that the proposed solution will meet those needs.

I have worked with many projects where something similar was used with great results, here are some ideas:

  • On a very large scale project I've worked on which called for creating a brand new system, the business analysis team gathered the requirements via JAR sessions for about 1/2 a day and then used the second half to create mockups of what the solution might look like.  The next day the mockups were reviewed with the business stakeholders which helped to both clarify the requirements and to ensure the solution is one which meets the business needs.  This process was repeated a number of times until the entire system solution became to emerge with "built-in" buy in from the stakeholders.
  • On a different project, the business analyst gathered the requirements and then worked with the programmer to create a prototype using basic HTML.  Basically there was not database behind the pages just ability to click on buttons and to see what the screen might look like after the system would perform a given action.  This worked well in presentation to higher-level executives.
  • And yet on another project, which asked for changing an existing system to meet new requirements, we used a storyboard type presentation in Power Point with call outs of the changes to be made to the system.  The business stakeholders were easily able to understand the solution and validate that we were on the right path.

There are many other variations and ways to visually show your stakeholders the proposed design: create wireframes using Vision, use a whiteboard to brainstorm with the business stakeholders, use an electronic white board to capture your designs from JAD sessions, create screen mockups to be used both in presentations for stakeholders as well as in functional specification documents for the programmers.

In addition, there are now tools specifically designed for the business analyst to create prototype which helps the business to visualize what the app might look like before it's built.  One such tool is iRise.

Hope this helps!

- Adrian

Adrian Marchis
Business Analyst Community Blog - Post your thoughts!
New Post 2/18/2009 4:43 AM
User is offline Jarett Hailes
155 posts
6th Level Poster

Re: Prototyping - experience and tools 

 For UI-driven applications 'on the fly' prototyping is a great way to work with stakeholders to develop the user experience in a short amount of time.  You can derive many functional and data requirements this way, and then focus on non-functional requirements like SLAs, privacy/security, etc. afterwards once everyone has a good frame of reference to work with.

I've been using Balsamiq ( for on the fly mockups.  With it you can develop mockups while you're talking with your stakeholders right in front of them.  It does not translate into working code or anything sophisticated, but it is extremely effective to a) get the point across and b) ensure that they don't think 'this is how the system will look' due to its cartoonish graphics.

We've also been using Axure ( for more sophisticated prototyping with functional HTML for web-based apps.  I haven't been using it personally but my least technically oriented BA team member has found it to be relatively easy to get started with and she's already developing some decent-looking screens with basic static functionality.

New Post 2/25/2010 4:55 AM
User is offline madalinaro
9 posts
10th Level Poster

Re: Prototyping - experience and tools 

I've also been using Balsamique and works great because you can create the flow very fast and ask for feedback right away. This way you don't depend on any designer to do it.

Balsamique works primarly to clarify the process flow and not in the case when you want a good focus on design and styling. For this, you will need to hand over the mockup to the design team.

New Post 9/1/2010 11:11 AM
User is offline jblues
3 posts
No Ranking

Re: Prototyping - experience and tools 
Modified By jblues  on 9/1/2010 1:14:24 PM)

I compiled a list the other day of tools for rapid design prototyping:


Pencil Sketching - add-on for Mozilla Firefox



Mockup Screens



Adobe Flash Catalyst


We decided to go with iRise, and we checked out Protoshare and Axure, as well as Microsoft's Expression Blend.

I have to admit that if it weren't for iRise's ability to interact with sample back-end datasheets, which is unique, we'd have definitely bought something cheaper.

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