I just stumbled upon this video on YouTube and thought of sharing with you on ux.stackexchange.

https://youtu.be/FS00UIo12Xk - (UX prototyping tutorial: Paper prototyping techniques | lynda.com)

My question: Is it worth to spend this much of time for paper prototyping? In reality, do you allocate time to do this kind of paper prototyping in your organisation?

  • 2
    The way he was doing it? No. I think printing those papers using Balsamiq Mockups would be easier and faster. But yes, iterations could be done faster if you are doing his way. Basically this process is a bit tedious but can be comfortable if you know what your are doing.
    – Mohit
    Feb 5, 2016 at 7:24
  • If it's faster to do it otherwise (html, balsamique) than it is not worthed. However low fidelity prototyping is very important in the beggining of the design process. Feb 5, 2016 at 12:52
  • quicker to have blank sheets of paper and make sketches. also, I imagine there would be a right mess of bits of paper everywhere after you try that video technique
    – Dave Haigh
    Feb 5, 2016 at 14:12
  • I would think there was a market for professional pre-printed, pre-cut GUI widgets on sticky paper – business idea anyone? How about magnets? (Think Geek used to sell Photoshop fridge magnets.)) Are there magnetic phone/tablet/screen dummies (with glass display and realistic weight) where you can easily insert and remove a sheet of paper with your prototype?
    – Crissov
    Feb 5, 2016 at 21:18

2 Answers 2


I'll answer your question from personal experience. I work for a large software company with dozens of XD designers (across different departments) and we do make extensive use of paper prototypes.

We usually spend very little time creating the prototypes - but we spend more time testing them.

In your example video... I think they are spending way too much time printing and cutting all the paper UI assets (buttons, keyboards, etc.). We would never do that. The point of the paper prototype is to be able to test many ideas as freely and as quickly as possible. We also never use computer wire-framing tools at that stage. We may print out a basic screen template, but the UI and interactions are all quickly hand-drawn, lo-fi, sharpie sketches.

Typically, we will take 15-20 minutes to quickly sketch designs on paper and then show those to our test users. We can do 4-5 rounds of testing and iterations in one morning session.

Hope this helps.

  • Thanks Slavko for your answer. I guess that would make sense. Feb 7, 2016 at 15:03

In my experience: yes, but I would draw them on the computer.

Prototypes that look hand-drawn have the following advantages:

  • They look discardable. Stakeholders will not be afraid to tell you there's something wrong with them. Even if you spent three days drawing them, people will be happy to discuss changes, because it doesn't look like you poured your heart and soul into it.
  • They communicate the level of detail that should be discussed. If you draw straight lines and use a nice typeface, people will be distracted by the details, when you need them to look at the big picture.
  • They are a two-way language. If you're doing co-design, and you show a user a wireframe to give a suggestion of a feature, they can respond by drawing another, which you can then interpret to get at their wishes for the product. If you show them a clean, Photoshopped design, they can only describe what they think is wrong with it.

The drawback is that drawing wireframes by hand takes ages, and if you're iterating fast, you have to redraw the whole thing after each test. The solution is to move to computer-drawn wireframes, that look hand-drawn. Much like the wireframes here on the UX stackexchange:


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

These allow you to draw elaborate designs consisting of dozens of pages, with many copied elements, without any re-drawing. After testing, you can quickly change your design.

If you want a nice, informal user test, you then print them out as needed. For a slightly more formal test, you can make them clickable, and present them on a computer.

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