The Merits of Rapid Paper Prototyping

Our extended period of concept generation proved extremely helpful to focusing our ideas, by extrapolating the specific skills and interactions that most frequently surfaced in the different concepts.  We are currently working on prototyping three concepts that emerged from our ideation phase: an experiential tool for constructing cogent arguments; an app that encourages students to collect and make connections by sense-making with locative data; and a game that encourages students to exercise their computational thinking skills in a real world context.


Moving from concept to prototype can be a difficult transition, but we  labbers are learning what works by engaging each other as peer testers in trying out the basics of the interaction using paper prototypes.  Before coding digital prototypes, some quick and dirty prototypes that represent/model core interactions as fast as possible can provide valuable information about assumptions and/or reveal important unnoticed dynamics.   Aside from facilitating a tangible sense of basic functionality and flow, rapid paper prototyping pushes us to reflect on content integration and skill scaffolding.  With a rotating “Wizard of Oz” (team member playing the role of computer with hand-sketched assets), labbers provide each other with feedback and insights on how to refine the experience, e.g.  adding cues/prompts and deeper connections between actions and outcomes.  As computer, Mike E. wins the prize for adding sound effects.  Not only fun, enacting can allow you to user test more dynamic forms of feedback that are traditionally an afterthought and enable testers to feel a heightened connection to the experience.


We’re a fan of Bill Buxton’s Sketching User Experiences and are also collecting our own list of favorite rapid prototyping methods to remix and share with you.

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