Participatory design with paper prototypes

10 Jul 2010 - 8:04am
3 years ago
7 replies
1495 reads
Elizabeth P
2007

Hello everyone,

has anybody used participatory design combined with paper prototyping to gather insight as to the best interaction design solution?  

I'm specifically thinking of having users organize, in a guided session, paper widgets and content modules of different sizes to reflect the access they would like to see on the interface to different content items according to their needs and uses. This would be like an extension of conventional card sorting (which we have already done), but to gauge users' needs in terms of access and interaction with the contents.

For example, I would like to see if would they mix a number of content items from different sections on the same page on account of their frequence of use, order them in strict topic categories, prefer lists of quick access links, or a hybrid model etc.

Understanding that the users are not designers, I think this could be worthwhile, though I wonder if it's not too ambitious or complicated to be useful.

This situation has come up because we have 2 different groups of stakeholders leaning towards 2 different info arquitecture models; one more conventional with a menu for different sections, and the other, a more dynamic, less structured and flatter hierarchy with everything visible and only one click away from the first screen.

In the latter case, I suspect content could be hidden forever or it would become unscalable, so maybe a hybrid is required, but that's where I'd like the users' input!

Thoughts, advice, opinions, paper prototype stencils all welcome!

Thanks,
Elizabeth

Comments

10 Jul 2010 - 10:05am
Al McFarland
2008

Hi Elizabeth,

 

do me a favor and google "The Bridge".  Back in the mid 1990s, Tom Dayton and myself developed a workshop methodology that combined user requirements discovery, discovery of task data objects, and UI design using a process centered on participaotyr design, RAD, and paper prototyping.  The methodology included most of what you describe - as it turned out, the methodology was very successful and has morphed a number of times into other methods (e.g., agile, Iconix, etc.).

 

If you have any questions about the process, please feel free to contact me at 5752.nj@comcast.net, or Tom Dayton (he is at Ames Research - don't have his number handy, but he does come up in google).

 

Good luck!

 

Al


----- Original Message -----
From: "Elizabeth P"
To: "5752 nj"
Sent: Saturday, July 10, 2010 10:04:00 AM
Subject: [IxDA] Participatory design with paper prototypes

Hello everyone,

has anybody used participatory design combined with paper prototyping to  
gather insight as to the best interaction design solution?  

I'm specifically thinking of having users organize, in a guided session,  
paper widgets and content modules of different sizes to reflect the access  
they would like to see on the interface to different content items according  
to their needs and uses. This would be like an extension of conventional card  
sorting (which we have already done), but to gauge users' needs in terms of  
access and interaction with the contents.

For example, I would like to see if would they mix a number of content items  
from different sections on the same page on account of their frequence of  
use, order them in strict topic categories, prefer lists of quick access  
links, or a hybrid model etc.

Understanding that the users are not designers, I think this could be  
worthwhile, though I wonder if it's not too ambitious or complicated to be  
useful.

This situation has come up because we have 2 different groups of stakeholders  
leaning towards 2 different info arquitecture models; one more conventional  
with a menu for different sections, and the other, a more dynamic, less  
structured and flatter hierarchy with everything visible and only one click  
away from the first screen.

In the latter case, I suspect content could be hidden forever or it would  
become unscalable, so maybe a hybrid is required, but that's where I'd like  
the users' input!

Thoughts, advice, opinions, paper prototype stencils all welcome!

Thanks,
Elizabeth

10 Jul 2010 - 11:06am
Nils-Erik Gustafsson
2009

I have been successful in having teams of users, requirement analysts and developers create simple lo-fi paper sketches based on existing textual use case descriptions, with the main purpose of verifying the use cases, rather than creating UI designs. By visualizing the requirements (and possibilities!), the quality of the use cases was significantly improved, as was the understanding and involvement of the stakeholders.

If you want to present different suggested designs, make sure that they really are lo-fi, as this is the best way of communicating that the design is far from final and can be easily be changed. Sketches don't have to be complete. People have imagination and can fill in the gaps!


Also, make sure that you present your design sketches together with some suitable task descriptions, detailing what can be done with the suggested design.


Good luck!


NIls-Erik



Nils-Erik Gustafsson

gui@cmpmail.com


 

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10 Jul 2010 - 2:21pm
dszuc
2005

Hi Elizabeth:

This may provide some direction - http://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2010/05/achieving-design-focus-an-approach-to-design-workshops.php

rgds,

Dan

10 Jul 2010 - 4:06pm
lanehalley
2010

Hi Elizabeth,

Hugh Beyer has done a lot of work in this space. Here are some links

The post "paper prototyping in the large" http://incontextdesign.com/articles/paper-prototyping-in-the-large/  talks about how he designed a large room-sized control system with users.

He gave a talk at Agile 2009 that covered some aspects of this. The .pdf of the session material can be downloaded here. http://www.agile2009.com/node/2751 (you have to join/make a free account to access the file)

I see Hugh is also planning a talk for Agile 2010 called "The user feedback two step" http://agile2010.agilealliance.org/ui.html which I believe will cover the subject. The materials are usually available after the conference.

While looking for these links, also found this, but have not read it, so can't speak for it's usefulness.

http://www.amazon.com/Participatory-Design-Principles-Douglas-Schuler/dp/0805809511/ref=pd_sxp_f_pt

cheers,

     -lane

On Sat, Jul 10, 2010 at 11:06 AM, Elizabeth P  wrote:
Hello everyone,

has anybody used participatory design combined with paper prototyping to gather insight as to the best interaction design solution?  

I'm specifically thinking of having users organize, in a guided session, paper widgets and content modules of different sizes to reflect the access they would like to see on the interface to different content items according to their needs and uses. This would be like an extension of conventional card sorting (which we have already done), but to gauge users' needs in terms of access and interaction with the contents.

For example, I would like to see if would they mix a number of content items from different sections on the same page on account of their frequence of use, order them in strict topic categories, prefer lists of quick access links, or a hybrid model etc.

Understanding that the users are not designers, I think this could be worthwhile, though I wonder if it's not too ambitious or complicated to be useful.

This situation has come up because we have 2 different groups of stakeholders leaning towards 2 different info arquitecture models; one more conventional with a menu for different sections, and the other, a more dynamic, less structured and flatter hierarchy with everything visible and only one click away from the first screen.

In the latter case, I suspect content could be hidden forever or it would become unscalable, so maybe a hybrid is required, but that's where I'd like the users' input!

Thoughts, advice, opinions, paper prototype stencils all welcome!

Thanks,
Elizabeth


(((Plea
14 Jul 2010 - 8:31am
zakiwarfel
2004

We use participatory design regularly in our design studio. We've used it with clients and I've taught several workshops using the method combined with paper prototyping. 

At the Agile09 conference, a group of us (myself, @yoni, @russu and @motoguzzi) ran a series of sessions that leveraged participatory design and paper prototyping to design a mobile ecommerce app.

On day 1, we ran four (4) 90 minute sessions, two of which were participatory design based, including one that leveraged paper prototyping. On day 2, we took those designs, prototyped them using Fireworks/HTML/Rails. On the third day, we shipped the mobile ecommerce app that took orders. 

All in all, we were able to design and ship a mobile ecommerce app in roughly 48 hours. The app exceeded the client's expectations and took orders that were 3X what we originally planned. 

1 Aug 2010 - 5:46pm
Elizabeth P
2007

Many thanks guys for all your suggestions. The literature referenced has given me a lot of ideas and I plan to keep reading up on the techniques both old and new.

In the end, for this particular session in question, we used A4 sized paper widgets to roughly organize and "build" pages.

Obviously, the final design will evolve several times over and the users' comments have to be interpreted rather than followed to the letter, but what was interesting to see was that very few items were grouped to form a "page"; things were very focused.

The widgets need polishing, but it was helpful to have visual cues rather than simple card sorting titles.

Regards

1 Aug 2010 - 9:05pm
whitneyq
2010

This is basically the technique that Carolyn Snyder suggests and describes in her book "Paper Prototyping" (Morgan Kauffman).

Synder sees the participatory creating of the prototype and activities to test it out as integral parts of the process.

Like The Bridge, her method works well with a group of people who include both "users" and creators of the eventual product. The technique allows the group to define the current way of working, an ideal (blue sky) version and then a "real" version that takes into account whatever realities exist. It was created at Bell Labs/Bellcore as a way of working with highly technical interfaces, but I've also seen it used for enterprise workflows where many different users/departments/functions all participate.

The Bridge focuses on task/flow and defining objects in an abstract way, while Snyder's paper prototyping uses actual interface elements and considers interaction as well as navigation or task/information flow.

On Sat, Jul 10, 2010 at 9:57 AM, Elizabeth P wrote: > Hello everyone, > > has anybody used participatory design combined with paper prototyping to > gather insight as to the best interaction design solution? > > I'm specifically thinking of having users organize, in a guided session, > paper widgets and content modules of different sizes to reflect the access > they would like to see on the interface to different content items according > to their needs and uses. This would be like an extension of conventional > card sorting (which we have already done), but to gauge users' needs in > terms of access and interaction with the contents. > > For example, I would like to see if would they mix a number of content items > from different sections on the same page on account of their frequence of > use, order them in strict topic categories, prefer lists of quick access > links, or a hybrid model etc. > > Understanding that the users are not designers, I think this could be > worthwhile, though I wonder if it's not too ambitious or complicated to be > useful. > > This situation has come up because we have 2 different groups of > stakeholders leaning towards 2 different info arquitecture models; one more > conventional with a menu for different sections, and the other, a more > dynamic, less structured and flatter hierarchy with everything visible and > only one click away from the first screen. > > In the latter case, I suspect content could be hidden forever or it would > become unscalable, so maybe a hybrid is required, but that's where I'd like > the users' input! > > Thoughts, advice, opinions, paper prototype stencils all welcome! > > Thanks, > Elizabeth > >

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