Rapid paper prototyping

Generate ideas

Paper prototyping is a great way to generate lots of ideas at the early stage of a project. Bring the idea into reality by drawing it and it doesn’t matter how good it is. A picture paints a thousand words. When you see it take form you can understand it, talk about it with your team, test it with users and iterate it.

Throw some away

You can also throw ideas away. Paper is much easier to screw up and chuck (recycle) than something digital. Its also cheap and quick.

Two people sketching in a notebook
Sketch credit: Aurora S Melchor, twitter @roarsdraws

Interactive paper?

Sketch, glue, label or stick to make what you need to bring the idea into reality. Be creative.

Rapid paper prototype workshop

I saw a great prototype technique at UXBristol 2016 (2018 has sold out already and I wasn’t quick enough for a ticket, boo) by Sandra Gonzalez, Head of UX at JUST EAT and founder of UX for Change. She developed it while prototyping with kids in educational settings and its just as powerful in other settings. In just 45 minutes you create the prototype, test it, iterate and test it again.

I gave a workshop on it today and had such positive feedback I though I’d share it here.


Use simple, cheap tools

  • Small notepad – to replicate the size and *feel* of a small smartphone
  • Post-its & stickers – to navigate around the app when testing
  • Sharpies/pens – for drawing
  • I bought materials for 32 people at a total of £9

10 mins to create the prototype

  • Draw your screens – a new screen per page
  • Leave Space – leave 5 pages between each screen (you MUST do this)
  • Show navigation –  place dot Stickers on buttons & match the colour to post its
  • Show pop-ups – by mini post-its

5 mins to test the prototype

  • Get into groups and test your prototype
  • Give the person your prototype and ask them to ‘think aloud’ as they view it
  • Note any problems/improvements

5 mins to iterate

  • This is why you have 5 blank pages… now you can tear off the screen you want to change and draw a new page

Test again / show and tell

  • test/iterate as many times as you need to
  • if you have time you can have a show and tell of ideas and even vote for the best ones to take forward to a digital prototype.