Rapid Paper Prototyping is great for testing new features during the early planning stages of a product. Testing paper mockups with real users is an effective way to validate a design before the coding starts.

Keep reading if you want to learn more about this design methodology.

Testing a Low-fidelity Interphase

According to Universal Methods of Design,

Prototyping is the tangible creation of artifacts at various levels of resolution, for development and testing of ideas within design teams and with clients and users.

Rapid Paper Prototyping (RPP) falls into the category of a low-fidelity prototyping. It takes the bare minimum amount of details to create a functional interface so potential users can test it. It is great for getting early feedback on your product without writing a line of code or creating a mock up.

Paper and ink is all you need.

Benefits of RPP

  • Understand how they use a new features
  • How satisfied they are at the end of a task
  • What obstacles they run into when completing tasks
  • Get rid of assumptions through testing
  • Test-early-and-often works wonders
  • Discover and fix usability problems at very low costs
  • Avoid wasting the time of developers and designers alike
  • Work only on features that have been validated by users

Listening to Your Users

The tricky part of RPP is to always keep in mind that your solution is not necessarily the best for users.

While testing the prototype you need to let users talk. Your role as a designer is to keep asking one simple question, why? Why are they clicking a picture instead of a button? Why do you think that this sliding bar is placed in that position? Why do you think this app is not worth your time?

Tips to Interview Your Users

  • The user should always have the option to skip a question
  • Have a casual conversation, don’t make it an interrogation
  • Start with a topic that will help them open up
  • Stay on subject–you want to bond, so don’t go wandering into the woods
  • Ask open questions–Yes/No questions are not very helpful
  • Do not judge their answers
  • No leading the witness–do not hint what the answer should be
  • Always ask why? Then, ask why again? And, again
  • Let them talk
  • Be empathetic
  • Remember you’re evaluating the product, not the user

Spending time with potential users is not a waste of time. By getting validation from them early, you can save yourself from wasting time on features that will never be used or will prove confusing. In fact, the more mistakes you find, the better.

You can learn more about RPP and some of the other UX methodologies at the UX Clinic. You can find valuable insights in our RPP Workshop.