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Learn software prototyping with online courses and programs

Software prototyping involves creating a simple model of the software before full-scale development to gather early feedback from stakeholders. Discover how to learn software prototyping with edX’s software development courses.

What is software prototyping?

Software prototyping is a part of the software development life cycle (SDLC), where you create a model of the product to demonstrate its potential visual design and functionality. This practice helps reduce risk and facilitates prompt feedback from stakeholders.Footnote 1

The workflow of the development team usually determines when software prototyping takes place.Footnote 2 Teams can create low-fidelity or high-fidelity prototypes depending on the detail and functionality they want to demonstrate. Low-fidelity prototypes primarily focus on visual design, whereas high-fidelity prototypes may include interactive and functional details.Footnote 3

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Software prototyping course curriculum

Software prototyping courses cover a variety of topics depending on the level. 

Introductory software prototyping courses can start with an overview of the software prototyping process. These courses familiarize you with the principles of prototyping, user experience (UX), and user interface (UI) design. These fundamental topics will help you to understand the benefits of prototyping within the software development life cycle. They may also include creating low-fidelity prototypes, such as paper prototypes.Footnote 4 You may even get hands-on experience using rapid prototyping software like Axure.Footnote 5

At the intermediate level, you’ll progress to honing your skills with high-fidelity prototypes.Footnote 6 You’re also likely to explore how to effectively collaborate with a development team throughout the software development process.Footnote 7 You may also get practical experience using popular software prototyping tools like Balsamiq, Invision, or Adobe XD.

In advanced prototyping software development courses, the curriculum may include topics like rapid prototyping and prototyping for specific devices. These courses may emphasize hands-on learning and prepare you for complex projects that demand sophisticated prototypes. Moreover, an advanced-level software prototyping tutorial may incorporate user testing methodologies to boost your ability to gather valuable user feedback from stakeholders.

Are you interested in learning about software development or a related topic? Explore the range of educational opportunities available through edX. A boot camp can provide flexible, hands-on learning for those who want to upskill quickly, while executive education courses are designed for busy professionals. You can also pursue a more comprehensive curriculum through a bachelor’s degree program or, for more advanced learners, a master’s degree program. Find the right learning path for you with edX.

Explore jobs that use software prototyping 

Software design and development professionals can enhance their careers when they learn software prototyping. Job roles in which software prototyping expertise can be advantageous include:

  • UX designer: These professionals develop software layouts and interfaces that ensure compatibility and usability across browsers and devices. They need in-depth knowledge of prototyping software so they can use it to create representations of their designs. Prototyping helps them refine and iterate on the user experience to build functional and usable software.Footnote 8

  • Software engineer: These professionals often design and develop software, write code, and test existing software and systems. Many tasks of a software engineer require knowledge of how to use the best prototyping software programs. They might use it, for example, for incremental prototyping, where they iteratively build and test prototypes to refine software features.Footnote 9

  • Product manager: These professionals collaborate with design and development teams to understand user needs, define product direction, and execute project plans. Knowledge in software prototyping greatly benefits the product manager role. This knowledge can help them communicate product vision to stakeholders.Footnote 10

  • Quality assurance analyst: These professionals’ primary responsibility is to design and execute tests to improve software products. Using prototypes as a point of reference, they use their software prototyping knowledge to develop tests that enhance user experience, improve product quality, and address cybersecurity concerns.Footnote 11

Qualifications for these careers will differ based on the position and employer. Some roles may require a degree, while others may simply require a demonstration of skills that can be acquired through a boot camp. edX offers a range of accelerated boot camps that allow learners to quickly upskill in fields such as UX/UI, product management, and coding. Before deciding on which learning path will work best for you, research potential roles you hope to pursue and align your coursework with your professional aspirations.

How to use software prototyping

Software development can be costly in terms of time and money. Software prototyping minimizes these risks, allowing you to refine a software program with features that align with users’ wants and requirements. 

While not everyone in a software development team needs extensive knowledge of creating software prototypes, having a basic understanding of prototyping can streamline the software development process and enhance collaboration within the group.

Generally, UX designer and software engineer are the roles with extensive software prototyping knowledge. Their software prototyping services are integral to validating design and functional concepts before full-scale software development. 

Some other software development team members may not need to participate in software prototyping in their daily tasks, but having a basic understanding helps to facilitate team collaboration. For example, business analysts may not necessarily create prototypes but need foundational knowledge to bridge the gap between non-technical and technical stakeholders.