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Paper Prototyping

Creating prototypes to your software can be very interesting and useful to the designers and developers. Instead of wondering if the users really need or understand their proposals, the implementation of prototypes can provide them some valuable feedback from the users early in the project also the stakeholders or customers can compare if the software meets the specifications and if changes must be made, the developers can manage them on time and not at the end of the project when everything is almost done.

One of the techniques used to prototype and to test the usability of an interface is the Paper Prototyping. This is an interesting technique that basically consists on creating a paper version of the interface manipulated by a person who ‘plays’ as the computer and a real user.

Paper prototyping has many benefits that can help the developers, designers and companies to produce and generate products with more quality and generate user satisfaction. On the other hand, this technique has some factors that can be considered negative or not well seen.

Pros

  • Allows changes on the interfaces before actually implementing it.
  • Not code required to implement a mockup of the interface.
  • Low cost
  • Finds a variety of problems before writing a single line of code.
  • Be creative and experiment with different ideas before choosing the definitive one.

Cons

  • It doesn’t generate code.
  • Users can react different to a paper prototype than a real software interface.
  • Designers and developers can be worried that the customers and users think that they are unprofessional.

In my opinion and after reading information in different sources I think that this technique is very useful to obtain feedback on time from the users about the design and also the implementation is quite simple, easy and low cost. But the designers and developers should be very careful, because low cost and simple doesn’t mean that the paper prototype would be a not understandable drawing or an ugly drawing without any kind of correspondence with the future real software.

The presentation of this kind of prototypes should be very clear, neat and correctly distributed in the space for not disturbing the mind of the user or be a negative factor in the interaction between the users and the actual interface.

As a conclusion, paper prototyping may not be the most accurate prototype of the “real final product” but it is fast, low cost and can generate important benefits to the organizations to settle correctly the scope and the final designing decisions of the project before start coding, this can save a lot of time and money. So the recommendation would be to encourage people to use paper prototypes while designing their products.

Sources:

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