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5 Ways to Save Time & Money with User Experience

Measure Twice. Cut Once. When developing software, most product teams underestimate the financial value of gathering user feedback, identifying opportunities early in the design phase, and reducing the risk of costly engineering changes later in the development process.

UX prototyping is what the most efficient product teams are increasingly adopting as standard practice to save time and money while ultimately delivering a higher-quality digital product.

IBM found that fixing software in the requirements phase can take 15X less time than fixing the same defect after release.*

Getting Started With UX Prototypes:

Here’s the best starter advice we can give based on over 15 years of experience working on hundreds of products:

Companies that use customer journey mapping see up to a 30% increase in customer lifetime value.
~ MicKinsey & Company


Most companies skip a critical first step in UX prototyping: Identifying and visualizing the user needs and pain points. We have observed that most product team members are siloed into their specific area of operation. It is difficult to truly understand the complete picture and effectively work as a cohesive team to improve the customer experience.

Companies that use customer journey mapping to inform their customer experience strategy see up to a 20% increase in customer satisfaction and up to a 30% increase in customer lifetime value* according to a study by McKinsey & Company.We recommend two important steps at the outset of any software initiative:

  • Customer Journey Mapping: A customer journey map is a visual representation of the steps a customer takes as they interact with your company.  Journey Maps can help the product team understand your customer by identifying the key touchpoints or interactions that users have with your software or service. This can include the initial discovery of the platform, onboarding, and ongoing product experience.
  • Customer Goals And Motivator Matrix: While you may have a general understanding of your customers, conducting user research can help to uncover deeper insights into their specific goals, motivators, pain points, and opportunities throughout their journey. By connecting your customer research to the user journey and mapping it with your business goals, the entire product team can gain a thorough understanding of how the product fits together and contributes to achieving business objectives.Most collaboration platforms like Lucid, Miro, and Figjam now come with useful templates to help this pre-stage of the prototyping process. Once a team sees a customer journey, they better empathize with the customer and can apply the knowledge towards improving their respective part of the journey.


There are many prototyping tools available, both free and paid. The differences can be subtle, and every product team has a unique approach and workflow.

There are many prototyping tools available, both free and paid. The differences can be subtle, and every product team has a unique approach and workflow. Choose a tool that fits with your design process and supports the level of interactivity needed for your prototype.

Ask yourself:

  • What is your necessary level of design sophistication? Do you need a professionally designed prototype to demonstrate your vision?
  • How complex is the interactivity necessary to showcase your concept, functionality, and data?

If the answer to either of the above is “low,” prototypes can be generated in common platforms such as PowerPoint, Lucidcharts, Visio or any graphic design software.

If your answer is “high,” there are several tools available for advanced UX prototyping, but with the announcement from Adobe it will be ceasing XD development, it appears Figma has won the race.

  • Figma: Figma is quickly becoming the preferred industry tool for designing user interfaces and prototypes. Being web-based, Figma allows designers to create and collaborate on projects in real-time, making it a top choice for teams working remotely. At Toolbox No. 9, Figma has become our first choice tool for UX prototyping and collaboration. In a self-conducted survey, Figma found that 71% of respondents reported that the tool reduced the time spent on design handoff and collaboration by at least 25%* . We can attest that once we mastered its web-based collaboration features, our workflow improved significantly, particularly in today’s remote-first work environment.
Prototyping reduces the time spent on design handoff and collaboration by at least 25%.
~ Figma
Material is a design system created by Google to help teams build high-quality digital experiences for Android, iOS, Flutter, and the web.


Too many teams jump straight into details when generating UX prototypes. This prevents teams from seeing the forest through the trees.

Low-Fidelity Wireframing:
Instead of getting bogged down in details early on, start by creating wireframes that represent the basic layout and flow of your design. This helps you understand the overall experience before adding complexity. To avoid distractions for the team, it’s recommended to steer clear of details related to data and content at this stage.Low-Fidelity Wireframes focus on:

  • The overall structure of the design, including the placement and hierarchy of different elements.
  • The flow of the user experience, such as how users navigate through different views or sections of the product.
  • The key functionality and features that the solution will include.
  • The basic visual elements, such as the placement of buttons, forms, and other interactive elements.

For live collaborative workshops, Toolbox uses Figjam, a product extension of Figma, to keep the team focused on what matters most.

High-Fidelity UI Designs:
After evaluating your low-fidelity wireframes with stakeholders, development leads, and customers, it’s time to move on to creating high-fidelity UI designs. During this stage, focus on adding more details and interactivity to include complex features and more precise content and data.High-Fidelity UI Design focuses on:

  • Specific data and content and edge-cases.
  • Visual design details like color, layout, typography, and iconography.
  • Secondary views, features, and functionality.

While it’s true that the learning curve for these platforms can be steep for non-designers, one of the primary advantages of using specialized platforms like those listed above is that they come with extensive UX/UI design libraries to choose like Material UI.


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.
Prototyping can reduce development costs by up to 33%.
~ Forrester Research
Testing products with just five users can uncover up to 85% of usability issues.
~ Nielsen Norman Group


According to a study by the Nielsen Norman Group, testing a prototype with just five users can uncover up to 85% of usability issues.* Here are two methods we use to test our products with future users:

Live User Testing: Conducting user testing is a great way to get feedback from actual users. You can observe users as they interact with your prototype and gather their feedback on the design. This can help you identify areas that need improvement and get a better understanding of how users are using your solution.

Remote Usability Testing: Platforms like UserTesting or TryMata can be used to conduct large scale remote usability testing, which allows you to get feedback from users anywhere in the world. These tools typically offer video recordings of users interacting with your prototype and provide detailed feedback on the user experience.Remember that prototyping is meant to be an iterative process, so be ready to make changes based on feedback, as this will help you create a better end product and prevent unnecessary and expensive changes once products are into full-stack engineering.

UX Prototyping Can Help Your Product Team:

  • Validate your concept: User Experience prototypes ensure your ideas will deliver ROI early in the process and facilitate interactions investors, partners, customers, and internal stakeholders.
  • Generate excitement with customers and investors: UX/UI Design can bring your vision to life in a few weeks versus months and gives you the ability to share a fully visualized representation of your software with customers, investors, and partners.
  • Collaborate with your development team: UX/UI provides very clear visual representations of your end product, making it easy to share requirements and collaborate. This can lower costs, reduce tech debt, and speed time to market.
  • Pivot products before development: The least expensive time to make large changes to a product is in the UX phase. UI design saves time, money, and resources by shifting refinements before development even starts.


“The Economic Impacts of Inadequate Infrastructure for Software Testing” the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

“The Business Impact of Investing in Experience” Forrester Consulting, commissioned by Adobe

“UX and ROI: The Business Value of Good User Experience” Nielsen Norman Group

“The Total Economic Impact™ Of InVision” Forrester Research

“From touchpoints to journeys: Seeing the world as customers do” McKinsey & Company

“The Total Economic Impact of Figma” Forrester Consulting, commissioned by Figma

“Why You Only Need to Test with 5 Users” Nielsen Norman Group


Get a free 1 hour consultation with the Toolbox UX strategy to review your product and find the areas of highest impact to improve your product.