What is 'Paper' Prototyping?
Paper prototyping is the process of working through logic and processes using paper elements so that you can test and trial flows and logic before you commit to designing mock-up graphics.
There's several ways to do this, but one that is very successful for Arc and the highly complex projects that we are commissioned to solve is to run a series of workshops to start teasing out logic and intentions behind requirements.
Arc's designers sit down with your team with a sketchpad and a toolkit of pre-printed page elements that we've gleaned from your requirements. Then as the group discusses your ideas for the site, our designer can build a page from his toolkit of elements or even draw brand new elements. The flexibility of this process means if you dislike the placing of an element, simply pick it up and move it. Not sure if a form should have tabs or an accordion structure - try both and see which one works better in seconds.
Paper prototyping is also helpful in visualising dynamic elements early on as you can replicate user journeys and events by over laying new sheets of paper to mimic pop-ups, slide paper to reveal expandable content. The possibilities are limitless.
During any any paper prototyping session, our designers are always taking notes and even snapshot photos of pages you have created that you are happy with. This documentation of the process allows us to move to the next design stage of 'wire framing'.
This process sounds simple enough, but the art and skill is in using the experience of the Arc team to coach and mentor the process and not to leap to imposing a solution. At the same time this technique is incredibly powerful because we often find that the client's team has very different ideas amongst themselves as to how they thought a process would work and the workshop facilitates the creation of a single vision and importantly, buy-in.