Despite all the tremendous benefits using an HTML based, interactive prototype (which we will sing praises for til the end of time), I often find that if we begin with HTML alone, we’re more likely to cling to a certain layout simply due to the time (and pride) put into crafting a complex HTML structure. This is why I begin nearly all template layouts with a number of hand drawn sketches or whiteboard layouts before we even begin with HTML.

In this post, I’ll share an example of how paper prototyping played a critical role in how we approached a redesign for

  • Nolan

    I think this is a good idea and could see how it helps get the rough idea shaped out before you turn into a less flexible form like HTML. Sometimes prototypes (just not at Newfangled, but everywhere) are more like concrete than play-doh.

    I usually do something like this when I’m coding a new complex feature. I bBuild the simplest thing that works, and then replace or solidify elements as needed. If it takes a lot of effort to build something you get an emotional attachment to it, and often you don’t want (or can’t) throw it away. These early prototypes should exist just as a learning experience.

  • Katie

    Nolan, this comment has me thinking . . . It would be interesting to approach an especially complex development project with the same tiered process you take with CMS development–build the simplest part first, then move slowly up the ladder in complexity. Since we do not typically build complex web applications we often take a completeist approach to how we prototype and develop. I imagine that for some projects, taking an incremented approach could ease clients into understanding what they need, thus ensuring that what we build is entirely necessary rather than the feature buffet effect that prototyping can occasionally lead to.

  • Nolan

    A lot of semi-modern development processes follow this pattern. I think the quote that supports this is, “A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works.” (John Gall)

  • Justin

    Yeah sketches! I wrote about the value of sketching in the design process last year ( It’s great to see it applied in our prototyping process. Good post, Katie.

  • Mark O’Brien

    Having that whiteboard prototype up in the meeting/lunch room was a real joy. There is something that is very visually pleasing and even relaxing about an architecture spec drawn out on something other than a screen. Thanks for the therapy!

By Katie Jamison

Since December 2007, I've been fortunate to call Newfangled my professional home. I bridge the gap between our clients, developers, and designers. I make sure the myriad of small tasks required to take a site …

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