Paper Prototyping 101

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When developing a new custom application for your team (or refining an existing one), removing a paper process to save time typically becomes one of the goals that you work towards.

But, what if I told you that there's a paper process you could add to your development that would actually reduce the amount of time you spend perfecting your app?

And what if I also told you that just by simply using a scratch pad, bar napkin, or note card before ever touching the keyboard could result in a magnitude of difference in the time and money spent to hone your app?

Check out these four reasons for implementing a paper process in your development cycle...

1. Reduce iteration time and cost

It’s quicker (and cheaper) to go back and forth with clients, sketching layout designs rather than doing the development and scheduling a review meeting, just to have the client ask you to significantly modify or redesign what you had. This article from the Nielson Norman Group hits it right on the head:

"Forty years of software engineering experience uniformly indicates that it's much cheaper to change a product early in the development process than it is to make changes later in the process. The most common estimate is that it's 100 times cheaper to make a change before any code has been written than it is to wait until after the implementation is complete.

So: Ten times the impact if you discover a needed design change early, and 100 times cheaper to make the change. The experience from both fields is clear: early is much better than late."

2. Discover business process insights

The freeform sharing of workflow processes will often unveil a hidden requirement that neither you nor the client may have been aware of, and you might not have thought to ask about until you were already working on the app.

3. Cultivate more ideas

A quicker, cheaper, iterative process naturally results in many more concepts being generated. Paper prototyping lets you

4. Improve meeting morale

Using paper prototypes When you immediately convey the idea, it helps create a more positive, high-energy meeting.

You're going to be spending significant time making sure that you‘re getting exactly what it is that you need. Due to the nature of the custom app development business, it's often easy to dismiss or forget that some parts of the process can work better on paper. Just remember, the quicker you can identify your requirements, the faster you’ll be on your way!