In a couple of weeks time we’ll be meeting up with two groups of care leavers to do some paper prototyping of some of Mind Of My Own’s potential main features. They’ve asked us, what is paper prototyping and what happens in a prototyping session?
To answer this we’ve got Harry Harrold, our chief user experience designer from Neontribe to talk to us about what happens in a session.
Paper prototyping is the best methodology we have found for promoting in-depth feedback and meaningful change in a genuinely collaborative environment: it demands a co-creative approach and democratises interface conversations like no other technique.
The approach uses a prototype of an app or website built in paper. The young person who is testing the app uses their finger as if it were a mouse. In a testing session, a tester plays the part of the computer and makes changes to the paper interface to reflect the user’s interactions.
The young person is invited to investigate the interface to perform a specific action – make a complaint in this case.
The young person will be given some parameters for the use of the imnterface: asked to imagine some details about a fictious complaint. This aims to insulate the testing from their lived experience.
At every stage, it is stressed that it is the paper artfact we are testing, not the young person, and that any infelicities in their experience of using the interface are our fault as designers, not theirs.
In our 5-year experience of using this technique in a variety of projects focussed on young people, we have found that the personification of the computer by a real person, who consistently acts in a self-deprecating fashion, reassures the young person that this is truly the case.
We make actual changes to the paper interface in response to their testing during the session to underscore the power relationship between them and us and designers and the paper artefact itself. They have the power to change it.
Want to know more?
Try out this article and watch the video below
7 myths about paper prototyping – “Paper prototyping is probably the best tool we have to design great user experiences. It allows you to involve users early in the design process, shows you how people will use your system before you’ve written any code, and supports iterative design. So why are some design teams still resistant to using it? Here are 7 objections I’ve heard to paper prototyping and why each one is mistaken.” David Travis, www.userfocus.co.uk
The video below shows just how interactive paper prototypes can be.
Paper prototyping resources
List courtesy of David Travis
Paper prototyping helper kit. When you’re creating a paper prototype, it saves time to have controls and buttons that you can cut out and re-use, without needing to draw your own.
Paper prototyping support tools. This is from a web site run by Caroline Snyder (who literally wrote the book on paper prototyping). It contains some useful resources for actually running a paper prototyping test.
Paper Prototyping by Shawn Medero. This article from Alistapart provides a good background and some nice visual examples.
10 Effective Video Examples of Paper Prototyping. A collection of videos showing paper prototyping usability tests in action.