Design Thinking – Paper Prototypes

Design Thinking – Paper Prototypes


Paper prototypes are a fast and cheap way to test ideas for products and services. As such, they are an integral part of the design thinking methodology. By showing paper prototypes in user interviews, you can get a better understanding of user needs and also use it as a basis to experiment on – during and after the interview. To start off, let’s talk about commonly used materials: these include a pair of scissors, tape, glue stick, marker, post-its and paper and cardboard in various colors. Let’s say you want to test your newest business idea: a dog food delivery service. If for example you want to visualize an app or a website, you can start by drawing a simple interface. It doesn’t matter if it looks crude. I acctually recommend it because that way, users are encouraged to talk honestly about the concept itself. In contrast, a highly polished prototype draws the attention details like button placement and color choice. People also tend to hold back their honest opinion because they do not want to devalue your fancy prototype, you’ve obviously put so much work into. The same goes for physical objects like wearables. This technique is called wireframing and allows users to get a feel for you idea. Having a physical representation of the device helps to understand the implications of wearing it. Would I take it to work? Or wear it when doing sports? Services on the other hand are a different story, since they are intagible. So try to pick out a part of the service experience you want to focus on. Let’s say you want to host a convention for dog owners. One prototype could be a written invitation, another a program overview. Use these as a starting point in interviews. Here, I am building a dog food shipping package. I can use it not only to test its content or size but also the unpacking experience and whether the instructions are clear enough. To sum it up, while paper prototypes lack the functionality and detail of traditional prototypes, they are great for evaluation early concepts from a user perspective. They can be created and adapted very quickly. And in case users don’t like them, simply discard them! That was my short overview of paper prototypes. If you have any questions, feeld free to post them in the comments. Please let me know if you liked it and whether I should continue making videos about creativity, innovation and design thinking.

10 thoughts on “Design Thinking – Paper Prototypes

  1. Nice Video about Paper Prototypes! I'm very interested in these concepts. Please keep it up and do some more videos.

    Video Feedback:

    Picture: Good. Nice setup for a tutorial video. I like the bones :).
    Sound: Improveable. Maybe you could think about using background music. Take a look around in the YouTube Audio Database.

    All in all a fine start on Youtube!

    Cheers Joni.

  2. Very good video, thanks! i especially liked it, as it shows prototypes (most of the videos about prototyping i found are only talking about them, without real examples)

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