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How to create the perfect prototype

Phil Nash
October 03, 2013

How to create the perfect prototype

Prototyping is hard. As a digital agency, Mint Digital has created a number of prototype applications for clients, however these have been some of our least satisfying projects. Whilst we have been inspired by the project and put in the extra mile to delight, things sometimes just don't quite click.

It's taken us a while, and we've been through quite an experience to get to this point, but at Mint, we think we have solved the issue in a way that works for us, for our clients and for the end product. And all it takes is 4 days!

We'll look at the problems that prototypes can face; slippage, lack of focus and bloat. We'll see how our solution materialised out of Mint's company culture in a way that truly surprised us. We'll recap those initial issues and how we solve them and finally we'll look over how Rails helps us as developers and how we can help ourselves when creating prototype applications. By the end, 4 days is all you will need to create anything!

Phil Nash

October 03, 2013

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  1. A prototype is: •  Single minded •  Well thought out

    •  Ready to put in front of users
  2. Agenda •  The problems with prototypes •  How we came

    to a solution •  How to code a perfect prototype
  3. Hack weeks as a training scheme •  Tightly focused prototypes

    •  All round team agreement •  A clear proposition
  4. The perfect prototype •  Small, dedicated team •  Fast decision

    making •  Clear proposition •  A testable application
  5. Frameworks Use everything available to you to get a headstart.

    •  Rails •  Devise •  Active Admin/Rails Admin •  JQuery •  Bootstrap (if you must)
  6. Templates Use everything that your chosen framework gives you to

    jump even further ahead before you even start. There are certain things that you will always need.
  7. Testing •  Tests are your insurance policy •  They allow

    you to be confident that, when you put even hastily written code in front of users, it will work •  You can write code quicker without breaking things
  8. Deploying We want to be able to deploy as often

    as possible to show our progress to the rest of the team.
  9. Shipping •  Start shipping from day 1 •  Make it

    easy to ship •  Be aware of the limitations of your server
  10. It's a marathon, not a sprint •  Get some sleep

    •  Write good code, not more code
  11. Throw it all away •  This is not your best

    code •  You will have made bad decisions •  Launching a full service will cause you pain in the future •  Iterate on the ideas in the prototype, don't launch the prototype
  12. Coding the best prototype you can in a short space

    of time •  Frameworks •  Templates •  Testing •  Shipping •  Sleeping •  Iteration
  13. How to create the perfect prototype •  Focus, over a

    short time scale •  Have a deadline •  Have the decision makers in the room •  Give yourself as many headstarts in the app as possible •  Ship it