Paper Prototypes

Blank templates to develop prototypes.
At what stage of the design process is the tool most useful? 
What does it do? 

Prototyping is an important step in order to test ideas and develop them further.

When the co-design team has produced some initial ideas of a product or service but there is still plenty of room for exploration, paper prototypes or sketches of ideas can form the main elements for co-design activity.

This tool can be used after a group has designed an idea for a product or service- this might be an advert, website, app, poster, flyer, letter or even a conversation.

This tool acts as a starting point for the group to begin sketching out the idea - like a first draft. Prototyping is an important step in order to test ideas and develop them further. The purpose of paper prototyping is not to make something pretty, but to evaluate the idea . Strong Paper prototypes are  very simple and unaffected, and there may be lots of different versions of them!

The benefits of paper prototyping are simple: they're cheap, accessible, fast to make, and easy for future collaborators to work with.

How do you use it? 

Before beginning this activity, the co-design team must have settled on an idea, or some ideas, that they would like to take into the ‘develop’ phase.

Introduce the idea to the group by showing them some examples of paper prototypes (a quick google search throws up lots of examples). The tendency for members of the group to focus on 'neat and tidy’ prototypes is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome with paper prototyping, so make sure you choose examples that are loose or even ’scruffy'. 

Provide the group with paper prototypes suited to their idea, and some craft materials: coloured paper, scissors, glue, coloring pencils or pens, post-it notes, stickers etc. It is best to print off the paper prototypes on A3 paper, as the larger the paper, the more space to draw or comment on. Encourage the group to develop their ideas on the paper prototypes. They may want to make lots of different versions, especially if their idea is a website or other interactive technology. Remind them that paper prototypes are a quick visualisation of your idea. The artistic merit of the sketch is irrelevant. 

Encourage the group to take their ideas away and develop them further. If you or your colleagues have design skills it can be helpful to work ideas up to more finished examples after the initial prototyping phase for the group to feedback on in another session.