Design Project 3: Paper Prototyping

Studio: 4/10 (Mon), slides by 5pm
Final Write-up: 11:59pm on 4/13 (Thu)
6% toward your total grade

What do we do?

In this assignment, you will create and test paper prototypes for your design ideas. We will do this in two rounds, each including its own building and testing, to ensure you get a chance to iterate and improve your prototypes.

The first round is what you have already done in class: (1) Pick a storyboard and distill one concrete task you want to test, (2) build a paper prototype that supports the task you picked, and (3) test the prototype with classmates.

In the second round, you need to build a paper prototype that supports end-to-end scenarios captured in one or more of your storyboards. This means your paper prototype should concretely present all the elements of a user interface you're envisioning (but not trivial or unimportant components like footer or logo). Your prototype needs to support at least three distinct tasks. This does not mean you need to build three separate prototypes, but rather this means you need to build one complete prototype that is flexible enough to support the three tasks. You may choose to expand the prototype you made in the first round. Alternatively, you may choose different tasks, especially if initial results from the first round suggest that the approach you're taking doesn't seem quite promising.

After building your paper prototype, find at least three participants to test it. Make sure they are not friends who know about your project already, or classmates. Preferably, try to find participants who are close to your target user group or persona.

For reference, refer to the course reading or Hanmail video we watched in class.

Here's a suggested procedure for building and testing your paper prototype in the second round:
  1. Write down and print out a briefing for the user: This should include the purpose of your interface and background information that your participant needs to know. Make them simple, short, and clear: 1-2 paragraphs are enough. The reason you shouldn't rely on the facilitator's verbal introduction on-the-fly is to ensure consistency in your introduction.
  2. Write down all the concrete tasks on index cards: Again, we need this to be written down to ensure consistency. You may read to the user what's written on the index cards. Note that task descriptions should be about the user's goal (e.g., find the cheapest product and add to a shopping cart), not about how to use the interface (e.g., click on the product and drag to the shopping cart icon).
  3. Decide roles in your team: As discussed in class, you need a facilitator, a computer, and observers. Make sure each person clearly understands their roles, what to do, and what not to do. Feel free to swap roles after each participant's session.
  4. Run the test: After quick ice-breaking, show the briefing to the user. Present one task, watch the user perform the task, and make observations. Observers should note any usability issues the participant encounters. Then repeat with the other tasks.

Your Report

Only include the final version of your paper prototype. Observations and results may come from either rounds.
  • Photos of your prototype: Add a 1-2 sentence caption for each significant screen or component, so that a reader who does not know about your project can understand what all the major components of your prototype are designed for. Make sure you hand-sketch, and not print things out digitally. If you had anything printed out, mention why you chose to do so.
  • Participants: How many? How did you recruit them? Add demographic information, but do not include their name.
  • Briefing: What you presented to the user (1-2 paragraphs long).
  • Tasks: The tasks your participants performed (three).
  • Observations: List at least 10 usability problems you discovered. Organize them by high-level task or theme, not by each participant or time. But mention which participant ran into the problem by referring to them as P1, P2, ... (e.g., search results did not show the price information (P1, P3)). For each problem, indicate how critical the problem is: high, medium, and low. Finally, show how you plan to address each of the problems in the later stage of your design process.
  • Individual Reflections: Each member should write this part on their own, reflecting on their own experience. Merge all members' mini-reports in the final report. Answer the following questions:
    • What role did you play in each round?
    • What were some of the difficulties you faced playing the role(s)?
    • In what way was paper prototyping useful in your project?
    • What did your paper prototype not cover or test?
  • Studio Reflections: Summarize the feedback from the studio session, and mention how you addressed it or will address it later in the process.
  • Updates in DP1/2: If your team revisited needfinding and/or ideation and made updates to your earlier results, briefly describe what has been changed. Note that this is optional.


  • Prototype (20%)
    • Novel and creative interface idea?
    • Does it cover all the tasks?
    • Does it cover all core UI elements?
    • Right level of fidelity?
    • Effective use of paper prototype techniques?
  • Participants (10%)
    • At least three?
    • Close to the target user group?
    • Participant description is informative and relevant?
  • Briefing (5%)
    • Good summary of the purpose?
    • Good summary of the background?
    • Not too long or short?
  • Tasks (5%)
    • Three?
    • Are the tasks distinct from each other?
    • Are the tasks described concretely and clearly?
    • User-level description not functionality description?
  • Observations (20%)
    • 10+ submitted?
    • Are the usability issues described concretely and clearly?
    • Organized by task and theme?
    • Level of criticality included?
    • Is the plan for improvements reasonable and sound?
  • Individual Reflections (20%) -- graded individually
    • Roles clearly specified?
    • Participated in multiple sessions?
    • Difficulty discussion has enough depth and insight?
    • Pros of paper prototyping discussion has enough depth and insight?
    • Cons of paper prototyping discussion has enough depth and insight?
  • Studio Reflections (10%)
    • Is feedback well summarized?
    • Is feedback addressed, or is the plan for addressing feedback concrete?
  • Studio Presentation (10%)
    • Preparation and organization?
    • Articulation and clear delivery?
    • Effective use of visual aids?
    • Time management?


Studio Presentation: In studio, your team will present your main findings for 5 minutes, with 5 minutes for Q&A and feedback. You need to prepare a Google Slides presentation, by adding your slides to the link your TA will send you. The slides should be sent to your TA by 5pm on Monday. Every team member needs to participate in the presentation. Write down the questions and feedback you receive during your presentation, and reflect on them in your report.

Special note for DP3 studio: Course staff understands that there might not be enough time to build and test the paper prototype fully before the Monday studio. Until the studio, make sure your prototype building is complete, and at least one participant session is complete (as opposed to three). Individual reflections are not necessary for the studio presentation.

Team Report: One report per team. Your report should be submitted as a zip file. The main report should be written in Markdown (please use the .md extension). We're going to publish your reports on the course website. Submit your team's report on KLMS.