Paper Prototyping

I've been pretty far down in the trenches the last couple months, hence my lack of posting. It's good to be busy, and working on what I love the most, visual designs.

A fun thing happened while on the client site last week, and I thought I'd quickly post about it.

I was there to present my visual designs and get feedback before the requirements doc was finalized. I had suggested to the client previously, with the recommendation of my company's UX Director, that I try some paper prototyping with some real users. They liked the idea, but didn't really speak of it much since. So there I was, on the client site, working away at some suggested changes made by the BAs in our morning session, and here comes a BA with a user. "Do you want to try some paper prototyping?" I was a little stunned, but luckily had my visuals previously printed (all be it in black and white). I took the user into a meeting room. Now this isn't something I had ever done before, I read a couple articles, looked at some examples online, but that was the extent of my knowledge. What the heck, right? No better way to learn. Jump in the deep end.

By the end I had some great feedback and a bunch of marked up papers all over the place in no logical order. You know what? It was fun. It was great to have a one-on-one session with a user. There was no one else there to basis him, or explain how something should work, or guide him into the right place. It was just me, my mock ups, and the user. That's real research.

I got to do it once more while there, and it looks like I will be making a trip back specifically for the purpose of paper prototyping.

So I've now convinced my client to let me do contextual research and paper prototyping. Hooray for advocating the value of user experience research!


Corrado said…
This is very interesting. I also explored prototyping with paper. It was cool, it went this way: I was showing with the projector (or beamer, don'y know the exact word! :) on the wall some section of a webapp I'm developing, and we started commenting it with word. Than we switched to paper and pen to explain the changes we would like to do... But still not very effective, people was still saying like "did you mean, like this?".. So I jumped up, took paper and scissor, and started stick on the wall on the projection piece of paper like buttons, tabs, arrows and other web elements, to explain my point. Everyone got it, and we created a wide set of "components" and now we always use the projector and this "library of paper component" to build the interface on the wall using the projection as the base layout. And as you said, it was extremely fun! I also considered printing a small set of adhesive web components for this purpose, and selling them!

If you want, you can check out the webapplication I'm developing, maybe you can find it useful, it's a webapp for gathering feedback for designers.

Bye, thanks for the flex hints!

Corrado, Italy
Corrado said…
I forgot the link :)

It's early release, you'll find bugs, but you can also report them :)

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