Testing embedded user interfaces with paper prototyping

Paper prototyping is a usability test where users access an interface by interacting with a paper version of the interface that is manipulated by a second person emulating the computer. The second person only manipulates the paper interface, but is not allowed to explain or give hints how to use the interface.

Paper prototyping is of special interest if you design the user interface for an embedded device mainly for the following reasons:

  • developing software for an embedded system is more cumbersome than for a desktop system, therefore the paper version can safe time and can be easier adapted than for most embedded systems
  • you might want to experiment with different layout of hardware interfaces, for example knobs and buttons. These can be emulated using a paper model until the decision for the final hardware design has to be done.
  • it is fun! The task involves crayons, scissors, and glue and will most likely contribute well to your stress relief during daytime work!

In the following video, colleagues from University of Klagenfurt test an interface for their Geobashing application using paper prototyping:

If you want to learn more about the Geobashing application, find more information on the GeoBashing website.


About Wilfried Elmenreich

Understanding the communication networks of the future.
This entry was posted in Embedded Software, Hardware, Simulation, Tools and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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