Paper prototyping

Jack Dorsey’s original sketch for Twitter (\

When I first started exploring web design and journalism nearly 10 years ago I thought paper prototyping was silly.  Paper…really?  Web design was beyond paper, I scoffed.  I used the cutting-edge design tools like Photoshop 5 that actually let me edit text on the page (a huge upgrade from Photoshop 4 that featured a quaint-but-clunky text editing panel).

Who needs paper when you can push pixels on the screen, right?

Well, it took a few years to sink in, but I have since changed my mind.  I rediscovered paper several years ago and now find it much easier to sketch concepts and ideas in a notebook.  Nothing beats paper for speed.  I can flip open a notebook and jot down an idea much faster than using a computer or PDA.

Don’t get me wrong, I love computers and gadgets as much as (if not more than) the next guy.  But paper still rules the initial stages of design for me.

Why do I bring this up?  I found some great early-stage paper prototypes on Flickr recently.  You will probably recognize a few of them.  Several of them are now extremely popular, with millions of users each month.

For me, seeing these sketches is like seeing the notes of a mad scientist after he’s built a giant robot or a glimpse into a wizard’s magical tome.  They probably didn’t realize these hand-scrawled sketches would eventually turn out to be blueprints for success.  Hope you enjoy them.

Prototypes:

Photo of Jack Dorsey’s original sketches of Twitter (Stat.us).
Dan Catt’s original sketches of Flickr Places
.
Sockyung Hong’s sketch for Vimeo profile pages.

Beth Goldman’s sketches of several Quicken screens.

Notebooks:

Large plain Moleskine reporter. (my favorite).
Pocket ruled Moleskine notebook. (great for travel).

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10 Responses to Paper prototyping

  1. “…find it much easier to sketch concepts and ideas in a notebook.”

    Or a whiteboard eh Dave?

  2. Dave says:

    Love whiteboards. They’re just really hard to carry with you. 😉

  3. Jim Thompson says:

    I have a strange fascination for other people’s notebooks. I have a small collection of scans of notebooks and sketchbooks that I have found on the internet and on flickr. It’s really interesting to look at other people’s handwriting and drawings.

    Which reminds me… I found this fascination: http://www.themaninblue.com/articles/handwritten_typographers/ Handwriting samples from prominent typographers.

  4. Dave says:

    Jim, that’s a very cool article. Most typographers in that article had beautiful handwriting (in comparison to me). I remember as a kid in first or second grade getting a “C” in handwriting. This freaked me out because I was normally an A or B student.

    Luckily my parents told me not to worry about it. I distinctly remember my mother telling me that I would develop my own “style” of handwriting eventually anyhow.

    It was comforting at the time, however, I still have crap handwriting to this day.

    🙂

  5. g says:

    whiteboard + iPhone + evernote = happy

  6. Dave says:

    I’m liking Evernote so far – when I remember to use it. I keep forgetting I have it.

  7. Hello there. I wonder if you’d be interested in my little wireframing tool: http://www.balsamiq.com/products/mockups – it’s designed to feel like paper, but, if possible, be even faster and more flexible. I’d be happy to send you a license to the Desktop version if you want to evaluate it fully.

    Peldi

  8. Paul says:

    Excellent – I have now added you to me reading list…

  9. Dave says:

    Glad you like it Paul. Thanks for reading.

  10. Pingback: Bookmarks about Prototyping

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