Paper

On april 29th an 30th I had the opportunity to take part on a workshop called From User Stories to User Interface Design held by catalysts, (Christoph Steindl and Christian Federspiel). These guys are rather not User Interface Designers but more Software Engineers and Project Managers who got a lot of experience in software development projects at e.g. IBM, Siemens and VAI. So I was very curious about the workshop.

Actually I just had time to visit the second day, but nevertheless it was a great experience and brought me some kind of aha-effects, which I’ll try to describe.

Bill Buxton’s book „Sketching User Experiences“ layed the base for most of the examples we went through. But get a bit more into detail. Of course every UI Designer knows about Paper Prototyping. But when was the last time you built a paper prototype in a group of 3 to 4 Interaction Designers, tested it with real users, redesigned it and presented the whole stuff to an audience? And all that within one hour?



pictures: http://www.nngroup.com

Of course one and one the most stunning points is quality & speed. When you create a paper prototype, test it (with three to five users) redesign it on base of this feedback and do this process again.

Using e.g. HTML prototypes for this procedure normally takes me several days. Concentrating too early on the graphic-design is also one of the problems I have to face as a designer. But the second (and maybe far more interesting) point for me is that when I use paper for a prototype (which takes me normally 30 to 60 minutes) I have absolutely no problem to throw it away again. And this is definitely not the case with my HTML prototypes: „Well, now I spend that much time yet, I can’t do this all again. Let’s see what we can use“. The barrier for making a compromise is much, much lower with paper. And that’s an interesting argument, I think.

As mentioned, several examples can be found in Bill Buxtons book. Here is one I really love …

For over 40 years Bob Spence has pursued research in two fields, engineering design and human-computer interaction. He is a fellow of the IEEE and a fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

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Erhard Wimmer

Master of Desaster

3 Gedanken zu „Paper“

  1. Did you also discuss some of the cons of paper prototyping? I recently tested a design using paper prototypes, and found that the fact that it is hand-drawn and paper-based limits its utilisability. For the first stages of design, e.g. for checking if the users understood the concept/the visualisation and the basic interactions or for comparing different visualisations it was useful. However, I felt that it was necessary to move on to higher fidelity prototypes, as it was hard to test interactions with the paper prototypes. Additionally, I think that it really depends on how you design your paper prototype, as the way it is drawn can influence users and cause usability problems – or it is all fine on paper, but the users will not recognize the interface element you then use for the digital version.

    guess the bill buxton book is a must have?!

  2. > Did you also discuss some of the cons
    > of paper prototyping?

    Not really 🙂 but of course I hear a lot from my collegues about pros and cons.

    > For the first stages of design, e.g.
    > for checking if the users understood
    > the concept/the visualisation and the
    > basic interactions or for comparing
    > different visualisations it was useful.

    I think exactly here lies the strength of paper compared to other prototypes. You’ll get a lot of first feedback for relatively less effort. There is nothing to say against a further step moving to higher fidelity prototypes. As you said, when you need a more detailed feedback of course paper has its limits.

    > guess the bill buxton book is a must have?!
    🙂 Absolutely

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