What is paper prototyping?

The goal of paper prototyping is to see if users can get stuff done with the interface. It's used to check functionality, terminology, navigation and page layout. This ensures that people can complete the critical user journeys with the interface.

Why do paper prototyping?

Paper prototyping is a rapid way to incorporate direct feedback from real users into a design. Because it requires zero coding effort, designs can go through a number of iterations in a short amount of time. This compares favourably with the timescales needed for even the quickest computer-based prototyping tools.

Case study: Prototyping a mass-market handheld gadget

Although the technologies behind on-line banking are very secure, customers can fall victim to social or psychological scams, such as "phishing". To mitigate this risk, Barclays were considering supplying customers with a handheld reader that could be used with their bank card to generate security codes at various points in the session. A High St bank asked us to develop a user interface for the product that would be suitable for mass-market adoption. Read prototyping case study.

When should I do paper prototyping?

Paper prototyping is carried out with early design ideas and concepts.

Our approach to paper prototyping

Paper prototyping is a key component of our iterative design approach (based on the user-centred design standard, ISO 13407).

We identify the key user tasks and then develop paper mock-ups that support these activities. The prototype designs are put together by our experienced consultants using paper, sticky notes and acetates. We show the prototype designs to participants and ask them to carry out the tasks. We tell participants to use the paper prototype as they would a real user interface, pointing with their finger rather than a mouse. 

Why Userfocus?

Our consultants have a track record of success on similar projects, having designed, prototyped and tested user interfaces for a number of clients. Our assignments have shown us what works and we have the practical experience to back up our assertions. This makes our advice specific, balanced, honest and solution-oriented.

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