Paper prototyping

26 February 2009
Ben Logan

Author: Ben Logan

Passionate about improving services and experiences for the people that use them.

Paper prototypes are used to clarify requirements and enable draft interaction designs and screen designs to be very rapidly simulated and tested. This is the perfect opportunity to get a bit creative and involve key people on the project team, who have little-to-no technical background into the design process.

It’s easier to throw away paper!

The whole purpose of prototyping is to identify ideas and to explore how they could work without committing hours of design and development time for something that was never going to work. Even the most creatively drawn paper prototypes are much easier to screw up and put in the bin than a Photoshop design that has been worked on for several days.

Benefits:

  •     Relatively low cost to run
  •     Paper prototypes are quick to build
  •     Can be used for virtually any type of human-computer interface e.g. Mobile, web, desktop widget etc.
  •     Non-technical people can communicate and contribute to ideas
  •     Potential usability problems can be highlighted early on with minimal time spent on design and development

What do you need for Paper prototyping?

  •     Make sure you have plenty of paper, pens, scissors and blue tack to hand
  •     Keep the group to a workable number e.g. 5 people
  •     Room where you can stick things up on the wall
  •     Have a camera ready to photograph items you put up on the wall so you have something to come back to if needs be

What are some of the problems with Paper prototyping?

  •     Difficult to demonstrate how long a screen takes to load or refresh
  •     Can be difficult for one person to communicate back findings after a session
  •     Page scrolling difficult to represent on paper
  •     Fonts, images, colours and design aspects are hard to communicate effectively

 

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