22-Prototyping - Paper prototyping Search for within All of...

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Paper prototyping Search for: within Search help IBM home | | | My account developerWorks > Web architecture Paper prototyping Contents: What paper prototyping is How good should the prototype be? What paper prototyping is (and isn't) good for Key benefits for designers and developers Common concerns Conclusion Resources About the author Rate this article Related content: Seven tricks that Web designers don't know Subscriptions: dW newsletters dW Subscription (CDs and downloads) Sure, it's low-tech, but this usability testing method can help you sidestep problems before you write your code Carolyn Snyder ( [email protected] ) President, Snyder Consulting 1 November 2001 Wouldn't it be great to find out what users (and marketing) want before you start coding? Paper prototyping lets you do just that. While it may seem counterintuitive to test an interface without using a computer, paper prototyping lets you get maximum feedback for minimum effort. After a few usability tests with a paper prototype, you'll have confidence that you're implementing the right thing. What paper prototyping is Paper prototyping is a method of usability testing that is useful for Web sites, Web applications, and conventional software. Here's how it works: You first decide on the tasks that you'd like the user to accomplish. Next, you make screen shots and/or hand-sketched drafts of the windows, menus, dialog boxes, pages, popup messages, etc. that are needed to perform those tasks. Then you conduct a usability test by having one or two developers play the role of "computer," manipulating the pieces of paper to simulate how the interface would behave. Users are given realistic tasks to perform by interacting directly with the prototype -- they "click" by touching the prototype buttons or links and "type" by writing their data in the prototype's edit fields. (Using transparency or removable tape prevents the prototype from being written on directly.) A facilitator (usually someone trained in usability) conducts the session while other members of the development team observe and take notes. The "computer" does not explain how the interface is supposed to work, but merely simulates what the interface would do. In this manner, you can identify which parts of the interface are self-explanatory and which parts are confusing. Because the prototype is all on paper, you can modify it very easily to fix the problems you find. Figure 1. A paper prototype of the File Setup dialog from Microsoft Word http://dwmaster.raleigh.ibm.com/dwcontent/developerworks/library/library-html/us-paper/index.html (1 of 7)6/29/2004 5:34:02 AM
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Paper prototyping Figure 1 illustrates how various GUI widgets can be prototyped. This example shows the File Setup dialog from Microsoft Word. (In a usability test, this component would be placed on top of a prototype of the Word application rather than being shown by
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22-Prototyping - Paper prototyping Search for within All of...

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