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Paper Prototype (Paper Prototyping)

What is paper prototyping?

Paper Prototyping is a prototyping method in which paper models are used to simulate computer or web applications. After initial design, a paper prototype is drawn on plain or construction paper, sometimes with colored markers. This is often a quick method, but can have some drawbacks over using prototyping software, in which designs can be easily copied, adapted and simulated.

Paper prototyping theory

Paper prototyping as a prototyping method relies on tangible objects for usability testing and functions under the assumption that the user will interact with the paper application as he or she would with a real application. There is some debate over the appropriateness of paper prototype testing environments. This has led to developments in prototyping tools, some of which can be used online. These advancements have meant that the testing can be carried out in an environment suited to the user.

How to carry out paper prototyping

Wireframes of the user interface of a software product or website are drawn on paper. These can be at any level of detail (high fidelity or low fidelity) and may even show where links will be placed on the page. In usability testing, a test participant is shown the paper wireframes. If the tester points to a certain link, a person manually shows him the relevant page to simulate how this would happen on screen. This can be repeated until the entire website is tested, or usability can be noted by having the test user think-out-loud (see Think Aloud) and having a moderator observe in the background.

Related terms

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