Do We Still Need Paper?

Paper seems to be less important than it was before, especially when it comes to high tech area. But, are you sure about this? Let' watch an interesting video first.

That guy shows off his hi-tech device again and again, finally, is taught by his wife how to stop.

It is just a commercial video, but somehow it tells something. In the software development, we really don't need the paper anymore?

Of course, we do need paper. Why?

First, fast speed.

It's easy for almost everyone to draw a prototype on paper. If you spend the same time, you would find a conclusion. In terms of volume of how many prototypes you can make, Axure < Justinmind < Mockplus < Paper prototyping. When you are going to draw with paper and pen, you don't even need to learn, just draw your prototype without any limitation of computer hardware.

Revising and rebuilding a paper prototype are also super easy. In the other article, I have said that in the designing process, demonstration -> discussion -> revise -> demonstration, is like an infinite loop. When the tools are easier, this loop is also easier. Well, of course, the easiest tools are paper and pen. Even your plan is totally denied, you can just throw the paper away and restart. Because the cost of your paper prototype is low, so well as time or energy.
Second, higher view.

In the initial process of product design, detail is something that you can neglect. However, this only happens when you go with paper and pen. As long as you are using softwares, you will give attention to the details consciously or unconsciously. Maybe you can try your best to control yourself, you still can't control your colleagues and let them ignore the details just like you. So, compared with controlling your and your colleagues' mind, I think it is much easier to make a prototype which doesn't have details at all.

Well, how to make a good paper prototype?

1. Tools you need.

Paper prototyping needs only a few simple tools, but you are still required to be well prepared. First of all, paper and pen. They don't have to be sophisticated or expensive, but they must be convenient and practical. The most important tool is your brain. Please remember to have one. No matter what you are doing. Design or anything else, just stay focus and keep awake.

Compared with other phrases of product designing, paper prototyping may need more brainstorm time. It is a phrase when ideas produce. If the plans are fixed at the beginning of this design, the product will be something without highlights or creatives.

2. Rules you need.

Thinking free doesn't equal to list your ideas without order. You and your colleagues shall have the same understanding: How much content can one page tell? A state? A page? An interaction? When an idea comes to you, you will add it into the page you're editing now? Or just take another page?

This seems to disobey the idea of thinking free. in fact, it doesn't. Nothing can be accomplished without norms or standards. Once things go messed up, it's really hard to completely copy your ideas, even they are the easiest tools in the world. What's more, as an excellent developing team, reasonable standards are essential.

Paper prototyping has some shortcomings: the precision is extremely low, the prototypes are not easy to save, etc. But, at the initial phase of software developing, it is still essential. One day, some kind of hi-tech tools may replace the function of paper prototyping, however, the spirit of creativity and innovation in the process of paper prototyping shall last forever.

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