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Paper Prototyping

This form of design is coming back to popularity. With the proliferation of tools and overall influence of computing, one would think that preparing screens and prototypes on paper would have vanished, but that is not the case. The concept of paper prototypes is turning out to be a useful way of generating prototypes and gathering information, with its limitation. As the complexity of the desired product increases, it becomes more difficult to do paper prototyping. So, for example, prototyping UI for mobiles, or for games, is more difficult to do using paper. However, one should not assume that something cannot be prototypes on paper right in the beginning.
Paper prototypes are more easier for people to handle when there are business workflows to simulate, they also give people more time to think through the interaction and point out problems in the workflow or the logic or the terminology. Further, paper prototypes allows you to convert an early set of users into sort of evangelists (consider the case where you have some client representatives over for discussion, you can do discussions, make alterations and give the same set of paper to the representatives who can take this to the larger set and actually convince the bigger set of users).
If you have a very small set of people in the team and a small project, then a prototype using a tool will not take too much additional effort over a paper prototype, but as you start to add team members and more business logic, you would find that a paper prototype takes far less effort.
Another great advantage of paper prototypes is that you can do it much earlier in the cycle (think about showing a proposed new feature to your user group in the forms of paper mockups, and getting some great feedback way early before you could even think of trying to make an electronic prototype). Further, if there are some re-work, then the paper prototype can be modified or even dumped and a new one made, and the effort involved is minimal. And of course, if you get into a situation where you are trying to prepare a new solution, something that does not yet exist, then the proposed customer base would not be very understanding initially of the proposed product, and the paper prototyping would work as a great usability test.
You might think that team members will be somewhat cynical about what a paper prototype can achieve, but all it takes is for a team member to watch one paper prototype discussion with stakeholders, and they will be hooked. Further, many of them will be unsure of what a simple paper based discussion will achieve, preferring the richness and interactivity of a tool based method; and there is no easy way to convince people that a paper based prototype will work; the fast is that a paper prototype allows people to get into deep into the proposed solution and do extensive discussion.
The killer of course is that paper prototyping allows saving of effort and money (and this is not money from buying tools, but from the standard principle that the impact of making a change is lower, the earlier you do it in the cycle, and paper prototyping allows you to do it very early).

A link to a paid video (not mine) that shows paper prototyping.

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