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Paper Prototyping

A paper prototype study is a study conducted on a paper version of a design to get feedback early on in the design process.

Paper prototype studies are good for getting feedback early on in the design process to help confirm whether you are headed in the right direction. You can determine appropriateness of the concept design before too much work has been done and before the project team becomes tied to a particular design. They prevent costly mistakes once development has begun.

One disadvantage is the fidelity of the interface. Participants may be less likely to realistically engage with something on paper, however, they may be more likely to provide feedback because it is clear that it is in the early stages. It may also be difficult to simulate complex interactions on paper.


Related Links

Web Resources

How To


  • Create your interface using paper, or printed from low-fidelity wireframes
  • Plan the study like any other usability study
  • You may need someone to pretend that they are the computer to simulate some interactions

Materials Needed

  • Paper
  • Writing implements
  • Post-its and other similar items for simulating things like drop-down lists
  • Transparencies and dry erase markers to allow users to simulate data entry
  • Anything else that will help you simulate interactions that are required by the design

Who Can Facilitate

The facilitator may need to be more familiar with the design than in other studies, since he or she will need to make sure the prototype functions the way it is intended to.

Next Steps

Refine the design based on the findings and conduct additional rounds of studies, if necessary.



Sources and contributors: 
Shannon McHarg.
Released: 2010-03
© 2010 Usability Professionals Association