One thing remains constant when developing software - the uncertainty of whether that software is going to solve the real problems of that use. You need feedback from the intended users.
Smartrak uses techniques from Design Led Thinking to ensure our products solve real problems. An important part of the process is often testing and getting feedback on a prototype.
Prototyping in software development can have different meanings. Generally, we mean creating something tangible, designed to demonstrate how we would solve a specific problem. These prototypes take different forms:
- mock-up screenshots to demonstrate quickly how a system could work
- videos that demonstrate how a system could work
- small-scale proof-of-concept software with basic functionality implemented.
Once a prototype has been created, it can be tested by users, gathering feedback and iterating the design until a final product is achieved. Through this process, unsuccessful ideas can be quickly and efficiently cut.
How Smartrak has used prototyping in the past
Balloons over Waikato
Balloons Over Waikato is an annual event held in Hamilton, New Zealand, attracting hot air balloonists from all over the world. Smartrak was approached for a solution to track the balloons, enabling the public to see where they were flying.
The initial version was a simple map with circles to represent the positions of the balloons. This version took two days to create. The response from the public was great and the next year a prototype was built to deliver a more feature-rich product. Check it out at https://balloons.smartrak.co.nz/.
One of the first prototyped features integrated into Smartrak's map was map tags (https://smartrak.atlassian.net/wiki/spaces/SCP/pages/5046314/Creating+a+Map+Tag). The map tags of today are quite different to the ones we first imagined. Clients told us that they wanted to be able to save specific map locations to navigate to them at a future time.
The first prototype had the ability to bookmark map views. Bookmarks allowed clients to right-click on the map and save that location. Users could then choose these saved locations from a list and automatically be directed there.
When this first prototype was demonstrated, we discovered that what was really wanted was the ability to save a location along with additional information. This location would then be also visible on the map for other users within their organisation to see. With these further learnings, we were able to revise and design the map tag functionality we use today.
If you have a solution that you’d like to see integrated or improved, reach out to a Smartrak expert to explore how our Professional Services team may be able to help deliver your vision.