Paper Prototyping

Quickly test your idea with a shitty first draft. Paper is a great tool to quickly visualize your idea. Paper prototypes are focused on possible solutions, often digital solutions. The prototypes make it possible to explore what a customer likes and dislikes about your presented solution and respond to any unforeseen actions.

You can create just your key feature or you can make sketches of each screen of your desired solution. You don’t have to be a great artist to create a great drawing! It’s more important that it helps you fully think through your concept, than create something that looks beautiful.

So, how to Paper Prototype?

Building paper prototypes builds on many of the skills you learned in kindergarten. Aside from applying the standard design knowledge, keep these tips in mind: 

  • Gather everything you need beforehand. This might be paper, scissors, glue, post-its, tape, etc. 
  • Use printer paper and cheap pencils/pens. This will ensure your creative freedom. Otherwise you might subconsciously restrict your thinking since you don’t want to draw something “ugly”.
  • Start by loosening up. Get in the creative mode by taking a sheet of paper and sketch all over it. Or just start sketching out thoughts and ideas as rapidly as you possibly can. 
  • If your aiming to test a digital solution, prototype mobile-first. Because of the limited space on mobile, you’ll be forced to prioritize content. 
  • Always make one sketch per screen / feature of your desired solution.

When your prototype is created, it’s time to test! Follow these steps for this phase:

  1. Design an experiment for the prototype, using an experiment canvas: what hypothesis are you testing with whom, and when is it successful?
  2. Decide what elements of your product/service you want to validate: what part of the experience needs to be simulated?
  3. It’s very important to set the right context of your prototype, as so much is dependent on the user’s imagination.
  4. Designate one person as playing the “computer”. Don’t make the mistake to have the presenter also control the prototype screens, as the role of the “computer” requires full attention. To best simulate an automated system, one person’s only job should be switching the screens according to the user’s action.
  5. Rehearse beforehand, to make it a great live performance. 
  6. Test with at minimum 5 people and record the test. 
  7. Ask the participants to imagine a fictional situation and to complete a goal. Let them experience the prototype without any help to observe their first reaction. Ask the participants to think out loud, so you know what drives their behavior. In the end, ask questions about their experience.
  8. Analyze the results of the sessions, by clustering interesting insights. Capture all learnings, indicate whether you confirmed/rejected your hypothesis, and decide how you will continue.

There are a lot of free online tools that help you digitize your paper idea if you want to. 

You can find some examples below.

Tools Paper Prototyping

Video Paper Prototyping

Any Questions?

Please don't hesitate to contact the Digital Innovation Lab. We are always happy to help!