Functional UI prototypes are interactive prototypes that demonstrate the full front-end functionality of the final product. According to Forrester Research, prototyping can reduce development costs by up to 33%.*

There are two routes available to teams who are looking to create a functional prototype:

No-Code Solutions:

Platforms like Bubble are gaining popularity because of their easy-to-use interfaces which allows non-coders to quickly create UI prototypes and lightweight applications. Some companies even take their no-code solution live for early product-market fit evaluation. The downside is we find that eventually no-code products are replaced by custom full-stack solutions, as these platforms are limited.

Front-End UI Prototypes:

For Toolbox, we are often tasked with creating a React front-end with test data and content to fully convey the user experience. These are fully coded HTML/CSS/Javascript solutions which eventually become production code once APIs are developed.

There are major advantages of developing functional front-end UI prototypes:

For Product Owners: Demonstrate to stakeholders, investors, and engineering teams with an even more accurate representation of the final product. This enables others to provide more detailed feedback on the product concepts before moving to full-stack engineering, minimizing major development pivots in the future.

For Full-Stack Developers: Functional front-end prototypes demonstrate the data and functionality that and necessary requirements that the full-stack solution will fulfill. This reduces ambiguity for what core technical solutions are necessary to accomplish the goals of the product and help inform API requirements.

For Front-End Developers: One of the biggest bottlenecks for front-end development is awaiting API completion. When it is difficult to work parallel with API development, front-end prototypes allow developers to work with a test harness and continue with interactivity prior to API release. Additionally, a large percentage of a front-end UI prototype can be used in the final code once API endpoints have been provided.

Next Article: Demonstrate, Evaluate, & Iterate