Paper prototyping for UX Design
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Published on January 14, 2015
Transforming thoughts and ideas into working websites and applications isn’t easy. In our digital age we often forget that you don’t always need to use digital tools for evaluating and expressing your ideas, or even for building an app or website. When working in user experience, designing software, apps, and websites, one of the best ways to translate visions into a final product is through paper prototyping. Through the use of old fashioned pencil and paper, you can get a better grasp on your ideas, share them, and receive user feedback. Paper prototypes do not replace digital versions, rather they provide for a fast option to iterate and test before investing resources in creating a digital prototype. Paper prototyping can serve as a first step in the prototyping portion of your overall UX process. American Graphics Institute frequently uses paper prototypes for early rounds of testing, putting into practice the concepts covered in many of its UX classes and workshops.
Paper prototyping saves time and money in the UX process
Prototypes help you deliver websites and apps that more accurately meet the needs of end-users. Paper prototypes allow for earlier testing requiring few resources beyond a pencil and paper. By meeting the needs of the users earlier in the process, and uncovering challenges to user flows before a system is built, paper prototyping proves its use. For example, you can use paper prototypes to sketch out a web form, confirming that it is easy for a user to understand the information being collected, and the process and flow for entering the data. If you need to make changes, you can easily do so before writing a line of code or even clicking your mouse. Beyond saving time and money, paper prototyping provides additional benefits. You can use paper prototypes to easily compare multiple designs or approaches to websites or app screens.
Prototyping in User Experience courses
Paper prototyping is one of several approaches to prototyping covered in user experience courses and workshops at American Graphics Institute. These courses help you learn to effectively apply prototyping as part of your application or web design process.
About the author
Jennifer Smith is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.
Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.