Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Paper Prototyping

The simplicity and benefits of paper prototypes ...

"As interfaces become ever more complex and development schedules seem to get shorter and shorter, you may find it useful to give up your user-interface modeling software for awhile in favor of something simpler. All you need is paper, pens, scissors, and your imagination.

Everyone loves paper
Just as a political party aims to be a “big tent,” product development teams should seek input from as many people as possible during the early part of a project’s design phase. Though HTML prototypes can be useful, they can also discourage those who are unsure what the medium is capable of. Paper prototypes, on the other hand, invite people with little-to-no technical background into the design process.

I cannot emphasize enough how important the inclusive quality of paper can be. Though some people shy away from paper prototypes because they feel they will not be taken seriously, I argue that many people are intimidated by a formal, highly technical design process and that the less “professional” nature of paper prototyping is a great way to lighten the mood and engage a more diverse group. Just offer plenty of paper, pens, scissors, and other materials for anyone to grab and use. If anyone feels nervous, let them eat the paste.

Easy iterations
Paper prototyping can also help improve the final product: the prototyping stage is the right time to catch design flaws and change directions, and the flexibility and disposability of paper encourages experimentation and speedy iteration. Instead of “deleting” hours worth of layout code you’ve used to position a column in the right place, you can draw a prototype, throw away the ideas that don’t work, and move on.

Built for your budget
If you are on a shoestring budget, paper is a great low-cost alternative to many software packages—and if you have a larger budget, you can use products like Post-it notes or tabbed index card dividers to make your paper prototypes more sophisticated. If it helps your team, you can print full-color objects to use in your prototyping sessions. You might want a low-quality printer in the meeting room connected to someone’s laptop for printing out new ideas. If someone recommends a website they’ve seen online, just print out a screenshot, tack it to the wall, and start doodling on it.

On the flip side, you can also use paper prototypes to run a technology-free design meeting: turn off your laptops, stop checking your e-mail, and focus on the task at hand."    (Continued via A List Apart)    [Usability Resources]

Paper Prototype of Drop Down Menu - Usability, User Interface Design

Paper Prototype of Drop Down Menu

1 Comments:

Anonymous Leeds Web Design said...

Finally! I've been doing this for years. It really works for me.

3:04 AM  

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