Paper prototyping is suitable for web sites, web applications, conventional software, or anything else that has an interface. In a paper prototype, we use screen shots and/or hand-drawn mock-ups of screens to conduct usability tests before investing effort in development. Users interact directly with the prototype, using their finger to "click" on buttons and links. One of the development team members plays the role of computer, manipulating the elements of the interface in response to the user's actions, but without explanation.
Paper prototyping has many benefits:
Paper prototyping is an optional part of the usability workshop I conduct for clients. I also teach a class at Bentley College called Paper Prototyping the User Interface.
For more detail on usability testing with a paper prototype, here are two articles I wrote:
The decision whether to conduct usability tests with the actual interface or a paper prototype depends on several factors. Here are some situations where it makes sense to test with a paper prototype:
On the other hand, in some situations it is beneficial to test a working version of the software or web site:
I'll help you identify other factors that pertain to your needs.
Paper prototyping uses materials that are available from office supply stores. Some items like Post-it tape are not always stocked in the store, so here's a list of links to locate supplies on Staples.com and OfficeDepot.com.