Mockups (Paper Prototypes)

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What are Mockups?

Mockups are a type of prototype that emulate the function or form of a design, but it may not be functional.

Why Mockups?

Mockups are easy to construct and modify and is used for communication and to prototype interaction. Mockups can be done in a couple of hours or some might just take a few minutes!

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Method Card Reference

Design Method Cards Complete Printable 2
Design Method Cards Complete Printable 2



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Process Phase




30 min - 2 hours



IDC Prototyping Kit and writing materials




Ideate a list

  • Ideate a list of potential information the model should provide to the design team


Ideate and Sketch

  • Ideate and sketch the form or layout of the mockup, typically using low cost, readily available materials and reusing components from other designs when possible


Construct Mockup

  • Act out interactions to gather information according to the list gathered in Step 1


Identify Areas

  • Identify areas for further medium or high-fidelity prototyping.

Best Practices


We recommend first work on the canvas individually or in pairs. Then, use the various Prototyping Canvas to have a larger conversation as a team.

Pair & Share


Use the Prototyping Canvas as a conversation tool with your team, client, or other important stakeholders.

Conversation Tool


Make sure you embody the important mindsets for prototyping during this activity: have a bias towards action, practice non-attachment towards your concepts especially during testing, and build to think and using “failures” as learning opportunities.



Every prototype needs a purpose. A prototype should answer a question or validate/invalidate and assumption. Use your assumptions and questions to guide the development of the simplest prototype possible to validate these assumptions and/or answer these questions.

Prototype Purpose


Find the quickest path to experience: you want to prototype in the shortest amount of time with minimal cost and resources used to test your assumptions and/or answer your key questions.

Quickest Path to Experience


Use one or more prototyping principles to help you achieve building the simplest prototype possible to test your critical assumption or question

Prototype Principles



Demo Video

This video gives you a walk-through on how to do an Prototyping Canvas, through a worked example of a Autonomous Vehicle Design Challenge.



Here are examples of the Prototyping Canvas for solving a problem posed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and solved by two design teams (Lauff, Menold, and Small, 2016). The problem to solve is: How might we increase social-emotional competencies (SEC) in young children? The teams engaged in the human-centered design process to solve these problems.