Saturday, 7 June 2014

SyncNorwich Review: Paper Prototyping

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to SyncNorwich. This is partly because I’m busier these days, partly because there’s only so many maps I can take, and partly because I’ve been contributing to other groups such as NRUG and NorDev. However, I’m incredibly glad that I came, with 22 other people, to SyncNorwich tonight because Harry and Rupert were amazing.

But more about them in a moment.

As usual, I looked around at the other people attending. Back in the early days of SyncNorwich, I recognised and could name 80% or 90% of the people who attended (that’s good coverage in any developers book!). Not so many now. Alright, I haven’t been to SyncNorwich for a long time, but the point is that less than 20% of the people attending tonight attended SyncNorwich when it first started. W hat’s happened to all the people who used to attend, but aren’t attending now?

SyncNorwich crowds have reduced by about 60% compared to in the past, but their membership has rocketed.

The tech community in Norwich, not just SyncNorwich, is changing again. I’ll be writing more about this soon.

My first, very brief meeting with Harry Harold (I’d had to run off to fix something or other) was at SynConf. A few months later we met again when we interviewed Neontribe for the then Norfolk Tech Journal, and Harry was kind enough to be on our Question Time panel at Norfolk Developers in October.

He was still a relative unknown to me at that point, but he was phenomenal. Harry possess a very unique charisma, which he demonstrated in January with a presentation on Preaching the Gospel at Norfolk Developers and then again at this years NorDevCon in February, alongside Rupert Redington. I received more feedback about Harry and Rupert’s NorDevCon session than any other (even more feedback that Jon Skeet’s!!) and it was all extremely positive. It was a no-brainer that they would be sensational when they repeated Paper Prototyping at SyncNorwich.

Harry and Rupert came here tonight to tell us that Paper Prototyping exists. They’re very excited about it and want to encourage us to try it ourselves. They certainly did all of that. They started off by telling us about the book, Paper Prototyping by Carolyn Snyder and about what Paper Prototyping is not:

  • A technique that works in windy conditions
  • Photoshop mockups
  • Wireframes
  • Early stage mockup

Despite there being no code or digital images, it is a heaven for people with a stationary fetish: it involves cards representing things like pictures, text, paragraphs of text, modal dialogues and buttons. Blue Tak is used to make buttons ‘clickable’.

I learned that Paper Prototyping is a way of getting users to test an interface before it’s implemented and even before a designer has knocked up some wireframes or photoshops. Harry and Rupert demonstrated this with the help of two volunteers. Harry presented them with a large piece of card with various other bits of card stuck to it to represent the widgets that formed the interface. Then, as the volunteers operated the widgets and expressed how they felt about the interface, Harry changed it to demonstrate the result of their actions. Meanwhile, Rupert recorded what they learnt from the volunteers on post-it notes he stuck to the wall.

They demonstrated how Paper Prototyping works and just how effective it can be.

All too soon it was over. Harry and Rupert’s performance was highly entertaining at the same time as being incredibly informative, and I can’t wait to see them again!

Originally published here.

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