The Beauty of Web-Based Paper Prototyping -Part 1-

This article which will deal with the various benefits which digital web-based prototyping can bring to your production cycle. The main idea of this article is to promote the digital implementation from the very start of the production work. Many  design agencies still work with pen and paper, a method which has been used for a long time but which in today’s world should be seen a thing from the past. It is time to explore the possibilities which technology can offer us!

The article will be posted in 3 parts -which should be released a week after another. Part ONE will offer a little review on classic prototyping and talk a little about the general structures within the team. The following articles will go more in-depth and talk a little about the ambitions, requirements and solutions for making the product development a little easier and more fun. I hope that you will enjoy this article and hopefully be able to take something useful out of it. Thanks!


User-centered software development is a dynamic and creative process. In the prototyping phase and in the evaluation, one can see it’s benefits and new challenges arise for the production team. The conceivability of the clients must be fully understood, ideas of the heterogeneous design team as well as the gathered feedback of the target audience must be included into the design. A challenging task indeed!

Due to global requirements of today’s digitally connected world, ‘classic paper prototyping‘ often is no longer sufficient. A bunch of draft papers are easily misunderstood, mixed up or lost in the super information highway and the need for an all-encompassing, digital and rapid solution is becoming more of a demand.

Therefore, web-based rapid paper prototyping has been growing into a well known topic for designers, developers and clients. But what is it what makes digital sketching so appealing to the usability community? Are design agencies simply too lazy to do the manual work with pen and paper or do they simply want to be more Eco-friendly and want to stop the deforestation of the amazon by refusing to use paper-based prototypes? This article will touch some of the core points and issues within the field and will list the justifications of this development.

Paper Prototyping:scribble

The easy way to create low-fi prototypes, to gather the design team around the big table or the whiteboard and a chance for everyone to jot down their ideas on the project. This technique supports the main ideas of rapid paper prototyping. Everyone can make changes and also view the changes already made by others. Everyone knows what is going on.

However, there are a few problems with this method. Increasing the complexity of a prototype whilst keeping a full overview on the project as a whole can become a bit of a challenge. Once a change has been made, it it difficult to be undone. Of course you can simply delete or throw away an error prone design but it is not as easy as a simple ‘CTRL+Z’.
To add to this, imagine that the team works from different locations and with different tasks to manage … it can become a mess in no time! Therefore, paper prototyping is no longer sufficient for the demands of the modern design agency.

Prototyping Roles:

The main roles in the prototyping stage are of course the users, the design team, the developers and the client. In order to finish up with a satisfying product, the different needs of those interest groups must be met and considered. Gathering those people around the same table, meeting their requirements, dealing with time pressure, budget limitations and the different locations of the various key players are a tough one to call.

The Design Team:

The design team is a collective of some very smart and able professionals. The interaction designer, visual designer, information architect, human researcher, usability experts and prototype developers are just some of the many roles one can find in a team. In order to express their varied ideas on how the end product should be like, collaborative prototyping is the way to meet this ambition. This method will enable them to discuss and clarify the multitude of requirements.

Next week, part TWO of this article will follow. Subjects are the challenges of a team, collaborative working and requirements for digital prototyping.

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