Paper Prototyping and 5 Analog Tools for Web and Mobile Designers


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Designers love analog tools. No wonder. These tools lets us physically interact with interfaces and speed up the design process, like paper prototyping. What takes hours in the digital world can be sketched out in a matter of minutes.

That’s why analog methods of prototyping are especially valuable right at the beginning of projects – when speed matters the most. Working with paper, or perhaps a whiteboard, can accelerate the speed of our learning loops. Sketch, feedback, sketch, feedback, sketch feedback – you can go through dozens of iterations in one day and you’ll set solid foundations for the rest of the work. Consider it kind of premium insurance. Getting rough feedback quickly can save you a lot of work.

No wonder, according to research by Todd Zaki Warfel, paper prototyping is still the most commonly used prototyping method! Yes, while we tend to disagree if we should code prototypes or just use prototyping software, the use of analogue tools in our design process is unquestionable! Honestly, I don’t know any designer who is not going through early stage paper prototyping sessions.

Of course in paper prototyping we pay the price of low-fidelity and while it might not be a problem for your team to discuss lo-fi deliverables, in my experience, it’s always a problem for stakeholders. To avoid misunderstandings and accusations that you’re playing with paper instead of working, just make paper prototyping an internal method for your team.

Analogue methods are supported by User Experience pioneers such as Bill Buxton, author of Sketching User Experience and Carolyn Snyder author of Paper Prototyping. They highly recommend breaking away from the computer once in a while and collaboratively work on the analog side of the design moon. According to them, paper prototyping:

  • keeps all team members motivated (as they can easily participate in paper prototyping sessions)
  • lets designers iterate quickly and gather feedback very soon in the process
  • gives designers freedom since paper has no boundaries

preview large goodprototypingbook design tools design tips design

And though many believe that the rise of tablets may end paper prototyping in the next couple of years, I’d disagree. The physical nature of paper prototyping, its speed and straight forward form (understandable by anyone), makes it unbeatable by any digital gadget. Tablet devices are just another medium of digital prototyping (perhaps better than computer, who knows…) than replacement of analog methods.

In recent years we can observe attempts to optimize paper prototyping by the creation of dedicated tools. I tried most of them and I’m addicted to some (UXPin, UI Stencils). They hugely improved my workflow. Dedicated paper prototyping tools gave me speed that exceeds everything that I tried before. I feel more professional with a well crafted notepad in hand than a crumpled piece of paper with messy sketches on it. This confidence helps me discuss my analog work both with teammates and stakeholders. Most of the tools that I present below have been around for couple of years and I guess they’re doing great.

My fingers are crossed for these brave entrepreneurs.

Have fun!

Note: At the end of article I listed some of my favourite printable templates – they are ready to use and FREE!

UXPin – Paper prototyping notepads



Popular paper prototyping notepads with an original idea. User Interface elements are printed on separate sticky notes, which let you quickly create prototypes and iterate by re-sticking parts of the interface. Additionally, notepads are equipped with a sketchbook (with printed browser/iPhone), project kick-off and personas forms, as well as diagramming, gridded, paper. Hard-covered, well-designed and beautifully crafted books are $29.99 with free DHL delivery to USA, Canada and EU, if you buy any 3 of them. Since people from Google, IBM, Microsoft use them – UXPin notepads has sort of become an industry classic.

Finished prototypes can be auto-converted into digital, HTML, wireframes by UXPin App and this is one of the coolest things I have ever seen in the User Experience Design field.

Phone Doo – Magnetic boards  Leer más “Paper Prototyping and 5 Analog Tools for Web and Mobile Designers”

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Prototype Like A Pro Using Tools You Already Know ***HOT APPs | recommended ***

Keynotopia transforms your favorite presentation application into the best rapid prototyping tool for creating mobile,
web and desktop app mockups
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Keynotopia is the largest collection of user interface design templates that enable you to prototype and test your app ideas in 30 minutes or less using Apple Keynote, Microsoft PowerPoint, or OpenOffice Impress.

The templates include thousands of wireframe and high fidelity vector UI components, meticulously designed from scratch in Keynote, Powerpoint and OpenOffice, and fully editable and customizable without needing additional design tools.


Keynotopia transforms your favorite presentation application into the best rapid prototyping tool for creating mobile,  web and desktop app mockups
-.-

Keynotopia is the largest collection of user interface design templates that enable you to prototype and test your app ideas in 30 minutes or less using Apple Keynote, Microsoft PowerPoint, or OpenOffice Impress.

The templates include thousands of wireframe and high fidelity vector UI components, meticulously designed from scratch in Keynote, Powerpoint and OpenOffice, and fully editable and customizable without needing additional design tools.

What is Keynotopia? from Amir Khella on Vimeo.

Create winning client proposals, deliver killer product demos, win your investors pitches, and finish projects on time and on budget

Keynotopia lets users design quick and easy interfaces and interactive mockups for web, mobile and desktop apps without touching a line of code

Design Elegant User Interfaces Without Messing With Colors, Pixels Or Layers

Create a new slide for each application screen, then copy elements from Keynotopia templates and paste them into your slides to create a great looking user interface in minutes!keynotopia examples Leer más “Prototype Like A Pro Using Tools You Already Know ***HOT APPs | recommended ***”

Innovation Through Prototyping and Experiments

You can prototype with anything. You want to get an answer to your big question using the bare minimum of energy and expense possibly, but not at the expense of the fidelity of the results. It’s not only about aluminum, foamcore, glue, and plywood. A video of the human experience of your proposed design is a prototype. Used correctly, an Excel spreadsheet is a wonderful prototyping tool. GMail started out as an in-market prototype. A temporary pop-up shop is a prototype. Believing that you can prototype with anything is a critical constraint in the design process, because it enables wise action, as opposed to the shots in the dark that arise from skipping to the end solution because zero imagination was applied to figuring out how to run a create a prototype to generate feedback from the world.


Microsoft Office Excel Icon
Image via Wikipedia

I’ve talked before about the importance of experiments in the innovation process. Experiments are essential for two reasons. First, they allow us to be more confident that our ideas will work. If we run a successful small experiment, that gives us some idea of how the innovation might work as we try to scale it up. Second, they allow us to sort our ideas more effectively. If we can devise a quick and dirty way to test out an idea, it will help us figure out which ones won’t work.

This seems fairly straightforward for testing product ideas, or really anything that is based on physical existence. But how can we experiment with intangible things, like services, or business models?

Diego Rodriguez provides some ideas in a great post that is part of his Innovation Principles series – Anything can by prototyped. You can prototype with anything:

You can prototype with anything. You want to get an answer to your big question using the bare minimum of energy and expense possibly, but not at the expense of the fidelity of the results. It’s not only about aluminum, foamcore, glue, and plywood. A video of the human experience of your proposed design is a prototype. Used correctly, an Excel spreadsheet is a wonderful prototyping tool. GMail started out as an in-market prototype. A temporary pop-up shop is a prototype. Believing that you can prototype with anything is a critical constraint in the design process, because it enables wise action, as opposed to the shots in the dark that arise from skipping to the end solution because zero imagination was applied to figuring out how to run a create a prototype to generate feedback from the world. Leer más “Innovation Through Prototyping and Experiments”