Paper prototyping tools?
October 5, 2008 4:13 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in doing paper prototyping for interface design. Learn me on the best tools for the job.

These images by Cultured Code were particularly inspiring. That's pretty much exactly what I want to do, but I'm a little fuzzy on the details. For example, in the first image there appears to be some sort of thick cardboard cut down to the shape of specific UI elements - what is that, and where can I get it? Can anyone recommend a particular type of pencil that might be better for sketching than a good ol' #2, or will any pencil do? What's up with those markers? Help me fill in the gaps!
posted by SamuelF to Technology (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It looks like that's just a piece of bookboard cut down to the size of the iPhone screen and the sizes of the application bar and text areas. I assume they made them with an x-acto. I've never used sucha thing, but it would do a nice job of making pretty wireframes with consistent sizes.

For pencils, it's a personal preference. For paper prototypes, I prefer mechanical pencils, a dark one like an HB and a lighter one like a 4H of 6H (those are lead hardnesses, not name brands.)

The markers are a nice touch. I like PrismaColor markers. They dry quickly and don't smell as strong as Sharpies. You can also get them in countless colors.
posted by advicepig at 4:54 PM on October 5, 2008

You don't have to draw your wireframes with a pencil and paper. A lot of folks use Visio, which is a basic autocad-like program. Here's an iphone stencil : I've also seem them done in PowerPoint, Word, etc.
posted by xammerboy at 5:36 PM on October 5, 2008

Response by poster: advicepig: Ah, bookboard! So that's what it's called. Thanks for the pencil/marker info, too. I'll check those out.

xammerboy: You're going to send me in to fits. I have to - HAVE to - use Visio at work for mockups, ones that should be done in Photoshop. It's maddening. Plus, I'm an Apple guy, so I avoid Office apps like the plague.

As far as doing digital wireframes: there's a certain je ne sais quoi to doing paper mocks that I like. I find that digital mockups are more useful once I have the basics wireframes and flow done on paper. That's just me, though.
posted by SamuelF at 5:54 PM on October 5, 2008

The thing about paper prototyping is that you can use anything, anything, for it. Nothing fancy, no special cards necessary. Heck, when I did prototyping for a class, I used cardboard from a cereal box and string. And Sharpies and regular mechanical pencils. The main point is that you shouldn't be spending too much on paper prototypes. A nice utility/X-Acto knife will be useful, as well as scissors, but really good ol' school supplies should do.

Ok, so I did prototypes for a class, but it should hold true in the professional field. Some of the examples my professor showed me were really scrappy looking stuff from actual companies.
posted by curagea at 6:55 PM on October 5, 2008

I like graphed or storyboard paper like this or this.
posted by cocoagirl at 7:37 PM on October 5, 2008

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