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I have looked around UXSE for questions on this and haven't found anything yet.

I am looking for solutions to managing paper prototypes and sketches and other physical objects created during a design process, I am not worried about wireframes or coded prototypes as they can be handled with an SCM.

How do you archive paper prototypes so that you can come back to them at a later stage, or to get inspiration for other projects?

I have come across one mention of paper prototype archiving at a talk in London IA group. It was specifically about physical model management by Rems Koolhaus the architect.

I have discussed the question in a bit more detail in a blogpost .

I'd be interested in hearing how other people handle (or don't handle) their physical objects.

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2 Answers

I'd suggest looking into creating a pattern library. The actual artifacts created on a project-by-project basis, IMHO, aren't all that useful. No on really looks back through old piles of wireframes, nor should they really.

But there's certainly details learned on every project and those details could be migrated to some sort of shared repository.

A wiki would be useful. And for specific UI/UX patterns, I'd suggest using a pattern library to keep track of useful patterns. We've been using Patternry as the tool for this. It's OK, but still has a long way to go, but seems to be one of the few options for this type of repository.

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Hi, can you expand a bit on the pattern library idea? I am speaking about physical objects specifically. Patternry (while it looks interesting) seems to be for code? How can I use this for paper prototypes and sketches? –  Bernard Tyers Dec 3 '12 at 22:10
    
It's not really for code. It handles minor code examples OK, but I wouldn't call it any sort of code/component repository. It's really a place to share patterns...be them actual code, or, more likely, descriptions, sketches, photos, etc. I'm actually suggesting you not worry about archiving full paper prototypes and sketches, but rather archiving the key bits of new, useful information you can glean from them. –  DA01 Dec 3 '12 at 22:13
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I follow a 3 step process:

  1. Photograph or scan the paper prototypes and back the images up.
  2. Place all the paper prototypes in a sleeve or box.
  3. After the box has been idle for about 6 months, I usually throw the contents out. I only work with paper, but if I were working with physical prototypes, I would store the box with them in some cheap storage. In the rare situation that I find that I need paper prototypes again, I simply print them out from my backups.
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Hi @JohnGB, thanks. Are your paper prototypes shared with developers, or product managers, etc? Mine are, so I am not sure if I could just throw them away. I like the scan step. Also, about the "sleeve/box" - are they stored "away" safe, or in the office so others can reference them? Are they annotated in any way? thanks –  Bernard Tyers Dec 3 '12 at 19:13
    
I work with a small team, and so everyone has access to everything. Most of my team is remote, so I just store them in a cupboard in my office. It's also a part of the reason that we digitise everything - so they can see it. –  JohnGB Dec 3 '12 at 19:20
    
This is pretty much exactly what I do. I double check before throwing away that nobody wants them. But,basically, if they've not been used in six months they're either irrelevant or already embodied in code. –  adrianh Dec 4 '12 at 8:36
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