Benefits of Paper Prototyping

posted in: Design | 0

Paper Prototyping
Paper prototyping is an extremely valuable tool that I always start with when designing or redesigning a website. Instead of jumping straight to coding, I first put my ideas on paper. I found this an effective way of coming up with best layout in terms of usability and content placement.

Rather then sketching the whole thing on paper though, I draw components and cut them out. I can then shift them around to try all kinds of layout possibilities. I can remove or add them as I see fit. This allows more flexibility and leads to best results. Sometimes I redesign / revise selected components as I try new layouts adding new features or just changing the looks.

Starting with a paper prototype simplifies the review process. I can look back at the entire layout length as I’m not limited by the screen size. I can add/remove components and rotate them around on the spot. This saves time and thus money. Plus having everything laid out like this allows for the design to “sink in” before you sit down and actually start coding. I get to look at it every day and spot potential problems with usability and goal of the site. If you work in a group environment, paper prototyping makes it easier for your peers to offer feedback. Again, all of this saves time as you know you will greatly limit code revisions / modifications.

Drawing out everything of paper takes time initially but it’s time well spent. You get to plan things before timely coding and potentially avoid overlooking something that makes of breaks the design. You also concentrate on the layout and usability instead of being distracted by the creativity elements. Another great benefit? Paper prototyping takes you away from computer screen and thus allows you to break yourself from all the distractions of Twitter, Facebook, IM, etc.

Paper prototypes are a great, low-cost way to try out design ideas, share (and test) them with your colleagues, and to spend time with your design before layout and features are committed. I highly recommend you start using paper prototyping, if you are not doing so already in the early stages of your website design work.