The very first step is to sketch your idea on a sheet of paper. If you consider yourself to be a bad artist - don’t let that stop you. A paper prototype isn’t about art, it’s about presenting the idea in a simplified way.
Take a sketchbook and a pen and try to put your idea on paper. To make it more visual, you can use a sketchbooks with phones templates on every page, or download and print such templates. This allows you to get a clear view of how the app will look on the device screen.
It is important to sketch all the screens of the app to get a clear structure. If your product includes many screens - present them on a single page, and add the connections.
A pen-and-paper sketch is just a draft for an interactive prototype. So, at this stage, you should pay more attention to key items and their placement and not to the detailed design. The UI of the future app or website is born right now.
Besides the pictures, you can sketch additional information that will be helpful for the project. Describe your buyer personas - the potential clients who will pay to use your product. Describe the possible user journey through the application, their steps and their impressions. And remember, you aren’t writing a novel, so don’t aim for perfection in your writing. A paper prototype is just a raw visualization of your thoughts.
Why are paper prototypes good?
Firstly, you can make them anytime, anywhere. Traveling on a train, walking the dog, watching the morning show - an idea can hit you unexpectedly. If you have a notepad and a pen, you are fully equipped for your first prototype. If not, check for other available material. Maybe you can grab several napkins from the nearest KFC.
Secondly, you don’t need any background in programming or design to know how to make a paper prototype. An understanding of your future product is enough.
Thirdly, prototypes cost you almost nothing. You don’t need expensive devices and prototyping tools to sketch the first model of your app. You won’t have to pay anyone for making the prototype for you. Yes, it will take you some time, but believe me, you would spend much more time explaining what you actually to a developer.
With a bit of creativity, your paper prototype can become interactive.
After the first paper prototype is ready, you can start showing it to other people. The visual presentation of your idea might be quite helpful for finding like-minded people, who will potentially join your team.