Museums and the Web 2005
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More than just papers, MW2005 offers a chance for dialogue.

Cutting edge prototyping: paper based user trials

Stephen Brown, De Montfort University, United Kingdom
David Gerrard, De Montfort University, United Kingdom

Mini-Workshop: Paper Prototyping

This mini workshop aims to illustrate an approach to prototyping heritage websites using paper prototypes devised to rapidly ascertain the intelligibility, accessibility and navigatability of a particular design. Delegates will be introduced to the methodology and shown how it has been applied to the design of an Internet based multi-media learning about three major transport achievements in the sphere of railways, waterways and aviation ( Using the same materials as used in the actual user trials, delegates will have the opportunity to experience and comment upon using paper prototypes to evaluate design concepts. The session will consider:

  1. The aim of building a prototype:

    What kind of insight into the finished design are we trying to achieve? What kind of issues about the design can prototyping uncover? How does paper prototyping reduce risk to the design and project as a whole? How does prototyping fit into an overall project methodology? When have we done enough prototyping?

  2. What you need to build a paper prototype:
    1. Information:

      What are we actually testing? The information you need to put in your paper prototype, and strategies for gathering it. Covering the use of:

      • Delphi exercises to focus the team and contributors upon key content and user types.
      • Techniques for organising and categorising content.
      Main Source: Rosenfeld, L. and Moreville, P.; O'Reilly and Associates Ltd (2002) Information Architecture for the World Wide Web (2nd Ed.);
    2. The equipment needed

      Paper, acetate, glue, pens and scissors for prototype production. Plus data recording equipment: notepad, audio recorder, video camera. In general, how "scientific" are such tests? Do they need to be conducted in a "scientific" manner?

    3. Main Source: Rettig, M. (1994) "Prototyping for Tiny Fingers" Communications of the ACM 37, 4 pp 21-27 April 1994.

    4. The people needed:

      How should we recruit and work with testers? Do they need to be from the core user base in order to provide valuable insight? Also, strategies for making them comfortable and getting them talking. Who should run the test? And what are their roles in testing?

  3. Building the prototype:

    How long should a prototype take to produce? Which areas of the design should the prototype focus on? What is the prototype actually testing? Does it have to look professional? Do you need to be an artist to produce good prototypes?

  4. Running the test:

    How many tests should be conducted? How many cycles of testing should be undertaken? What type of questions do you need to ask? What subjects should you avoid? How long should the test last? Can the test be adapted to focus on new issues or "skirt over" issues that have already been noted?

  5. Analysing the test:

    What to look for during and after a test.