6.831 • User Interface Design and Implementation

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Fall Semester, 2006

GR3: Paper Prototyping

Prototype Building Day (OPTIONAL) Friday, October 6th, 4-6 pm, 32-D463
Prototype Testing Day

In 9 days, in class on Thursday, October 12th

Final Hand-in

Due in 16 days, at 5:00pm on Thursday, October 19th, 2006, by email.


In this group assignment, you will do your first implementation of your term project, which will be a paper prototype. Your paper prototype should be able to handle at least 3 scenarios. These scenarios will probably be the scenarios you described in GR2, unless you got feedback from us telling you to change your scenarios.

There are two class meetings associated with this assignment (days and times shown above):

Since your classmates are too much like you (they're taking 6.831, they're mostly CS students, etc., etc.), you should consider them merely pilot users, who help you find the most obvious usability problems and help you practice running your paper prototype. After Testing Day, you should find some realistic users. First, revise your paper prototype to address the critical usability problems and explore possible design alternatives. Then, test it on at least 3 users from your target population, all from outside the class.

Choosing What to Prototype and Test

You may need to adjust your scenarios so that they explore the riskiest parts of your interface. A part of your interface is risky if its usability is hard to predict, or if its usability strongly affects the usability of the whole system. For example:

Risky parts need the most design iteration, so they'll give you the most payoff from prototyping. In other words, don't waste your effort on prototyping a login screen, but do make sure to prototype a novel, complicated, frequently-used dialog box. Not every risky part can be easily tested with paper prototyping, but if you make sure your scenarios cover the risky parts now, you'll be able to plan your subsequent (computer-based) prototypes better.

Preparing for Testing Day

Before testing your prototype, you should:

Running the Tests

When you run your prototype on a user, you should do the following things:

Bring extra materials on Testing Day. Having extra blank Post-it notes, correction tape, and index cards on hand will help you improvise if a user does something unexpected, or help you make small fixes to your prototype between users.

Playing Test Users for Your Classmates

On Testing Day, when you are serving as a user, you should:

Written Report

You should hand in an electronic report in PDF format with the following parts:


Add the following sections to your project's wiki page:

What to Hand In

This assignment has two deliverable components: your written report, and an update to your wiki page. Both must be complete by the deadline. Email your report as a PDF file to 6831handin@csail.mit.edu and include GR3 in the subject line.