What is Paper Prototype and How to Make a Paper-Based Prototype

Peter Martinez updated on 2020-09-25 17:19:49

If you are new into designing and product development, then you must have heard or paper prototype. Also known as a throwaway prototype, it lets us create an abstract idea of the product, which is majorly based on user interaction. Though, you can use a paper prototype app or website to do the same these days. In this post, I will let you know more about UX paper prototyping in detail and teach you how to create a paper prototype of your own.

What is a Paper Prototype?

If we talk about rapid prototyping, then paper based prototype would be its first step. It provides a brief and quick design overview of a product, like a website or a mobile app. The paper prototype testing would be based on the overall user interaction.

It is considered as a throwaway prototype as it provides a rough idea of the user interface at a glance, without going into details. Too often, hand-drawn sketches on paper are included in the design and hence it is known as a "paper" prototype. While the concept is pretty old and simply requires a pen and paper, you can also use a paper prototyping tool to work on the same these days.

paper prototype example

Why We Use Paper Prototypes: The Advantages and Disadvantages

Ideally, a paper prototype is drawn when we are running short on time and we simply have to provide a basic idea of the product. All you need is paper and pen to start UX paper prototyping, which can be the first step in product development. To further understand the concept of paper prototyping, let's consider some of its pros and cons.


  • Fast: This is one of the major reasons why people use any paper prototyping app/website these days. You don't have to focus on the details and can come up with an abstract idea of the product in minutes.
  • Flexible: Since you won't be including a lot of details in your prototype, you can change it and create its different versions pretty easily.
  • Affordable: Ideally, you don't even need to spend a lot of time while working on a paper prototype. You don't even need to use any digital medium and can work on a piece of paper as well.
  • Ideation: If you are just starting with your team, then you should work on creating a paper based prototype. Your colleagues can write notes and you can easily include any other idea without wasting your time.
  • Creative: Lastly, the process of working on a pen and paper is just more satisfying and creative. You won't be bound by the limitations of a digital tool anymore.


  • Low Fidelity: Most importantly, a paper prototype example can't help you explain your product to others. It should not be presented to clients as the needed details about the product would be lost.
  • Less dynamic: When we work on a digital prototyping tool, we get an actual idea of how our app or website would be. We can readily work on different versions and show transitions from one step to another.
  • Inaccurate: Too often, we end up forgetting some key components of designing while working on a paper prototype. This ends up building a non-feasible design of the product.
  • Unwanted: Some people even claim that a paper prototype is not needed at all and can simply cause more confusion in the development process.

How to Make a Paper Prototype: A Step-by-Step Guide

Ideally, there is no rule of thumb while creating a paper based prototype. You can do it with your hands using a pen and a paper or even try any paper prototype website/app. Here are some simple steps you can take to work on your prototype:

Step1:Select a medium for your paper prototype

To start with, you can get a neat white paper and pencils/pens/sketches to draw your paper prototype. You can also launch any paper prototype tool of your choice.

Step2:Draw the number of screens

At first, you need to draw how many screens the app or website would have. You can now create same-sized windows for each one.

Step3:Work on one screen at a time

Now, focus on every screen of your project and fill it up. For instance, you can have one screen for log-in, another for the user profile, and so on.

Step4:Interlink your screens and components

After you have worked on every screen individually, you can connect their components together. Some components of a particular screen would load another screen.

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Step5:Add notes for your paper prototype and finish up

That's it! In the end, you can include notes in your paper prototype example and simply gather everything in one place.

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The Best Prototyping Tool to Replace Paper Prototyping

Since paper prototype examples can be a bit restricted and don't provide a realistic view of the product, you can consider Wondershare Mockitt. It is one of the best online applications to design prototypes of all kinds in minutes.

paper prototype
  • It features hundreds of widgets, icons, logos, and other design elements that you can include in your canvas to create a rapid prototype.
  • If you further wish to save your time, then you can pick either of its readily available demos and templates.
  • The application also provides different dynamic prototypes and designs to include transitions and other effects. This will let you work on prototypes with high fidelity.
  • If you want, you can readily import a Sketch design on Wondershare Mockitt or export your projects in formats like PNG, PDF, or HTML.
  • There are also provisions to collaborate with your team for brainstorming and a fast sharing of your prototypes via links or QR codes.

There you go! I'm sure that after reading this post, you would be able to know more about paper prototyping and how it can be done. Since a paper prototype might not present your ideas realistically, you can consider a dedicated application like Wondershare Mockitt. You can go to its web-based application and start working on all kinds of prototypes in minutes for free.

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