Proto.io: Prototyping Your Mobile App The Easy Way

May 7 2014, 3:45pm CDT | by

For his former company, Alexis Piperides realized that traditional prototyping tools — which rely on wireframes — were terrible for mobile development.

“We built a tool internally to solve the problem,” he said. “And it was definitely a useful product and we turned it into a company.”

The company, called Proto.io, is now used by companies like eBay’s PayPal, Disney and Evernote. The product is also part of Facebook’s new startup support program, called FB Start.

Then again, you do not have to be a designer or a PhotoShop junkie to make Proto.io work. The service is extremely easy to use, allowing for the drag-and-drop of buttons; the use of gestures, such as swipes and pinches; and even animations like slides, fades, pops, flips, and turns. In a few minutes, you can put together a great prototype.

“Proto.io saves a lot of time and helps to reduce costs,” said Alexis. “Unfortunately, many companies develop apps before making a prototype.”

But a killer feature of Proto.io is that you can install a prototype, in native form, on an iOS or Android device.  In other words, you can get the feel of an actual user experience. “The biggest challenge in the early stage of development is creating the right interactions,” said Alexis.

Now this does not mean Proto.io will turn someone into a design genius. Perhaps the biggest mistake app developers make is using web-thinking when creating a mobile app. So yes, it’s still a smart idea to get the help of a designer. “A designer can takeover after the initial prototype is put together,” said Alexis.

To give Proto.io a shot, there is a 15-day free trial, which is certainly enough time to evaluate the product. After this, the subscription plans are reasonable, with the lowest tier at only $24 per month.

Tom Taulli (@ttaulli) is an advisor of tech companies and author of books on venture capital, M&A and IPOs.

 
 
 

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