Practical Paper Prototyping

Accepted Session
Short form
Scheduled: Thursday, June 18, 2009 from 2:45 – 3:30pm in Marquam


Paper prototyping is the fastest, cheapest way to test your user interface designs. To prove it, in 45 minutes we'll walk through several rounds of prototyping and testing a small application.


Paper prototyping is important

In user interface design we want to make lots of mistakes, and we want to make them early where they’re cheapest to fix. Just about the cheapest fix you can make is drawing a large X over your sketch, turning over the piece of paper, and starting again on the other side.

A paper prototype can be used for:

  • Design discussions: "I think these elements work much better side-by-side.
  • Client communication: “Is this what you mean?”
  • Developer scoping: “We have five screens with 14 interaction points, only three of which are non-trivial.”
  • Usability tests: “What do you expect to happen if you click that?”

Paper prototyping is easy

Can you draw a box on a piece of paper with a pen? Can you write? The hardest thing about paper prototyping is the problem you’re solving; the process itself is rapid, iterative, and transparent. We’ll talk about the most important aspects, with efficiency tips born of years of experience. We’ll also walk through several rounds of prototyping and testing a small application.

Speaking experience


  • Me and river

    Randall Hansen



    I have been creating human-computer interfaces since 1986 (for my Dad, on a Tandy 1000, in BASIC), and professionally since 1995. I am Director of User Experience at AboutUs here in Portland, where I try to create web interfaces that are worth your time. Previously I was UX Director at OpenSourcery.

    I’m the one with the beard.