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4 min read

Can you design and test a new digital product in just 5 weeks?

This article is about how we used research and prototyping to test and validate a product concept in just 5 weeks. No wasted time, no wasted money, just straight to the answers the client needed.

Paper is currently working with a company that wants to develop an innovative new product concept and be first to market. We can’t talk about the product in detail (yet), but here’s the main project goals:

  • Understand if the idea is something people need.
  • Challenge the concept and test it with real users.
  • Combine a set of digital services in a compeltely new way.
  • Test a prototype of the new site with real customers.

Product design process in as little as five weeks Product design process in as little as five weeks.

Week one…

We invited the client into the studio to start sharing ideas and working together to tailor the approach to suit both the business goals and possible customer needs. This included listening to all voices, building ideas through workshops and planning out the direction of the project.

Within one week, we had developed a proposition that the client could share with potential partners and we could begin to test.

Paper notepads and sharpies

Steve Cheshire (Director and Product Owner) says, - “Paper welcome you with open arms into their collaborative space. Its great to be able to use the studio to immerse yourself in your project and seeing artefacts of your project all over the walls. This approach is not only exciting but shows that Paper live and breathe your project even when you’re not around.

Within three weeks…

The concept had no previous research or testing so we got things started with an independent survey - targeting a sample of 150 people (screened on demographics and consumer behaviours). Among other things we found out how customers currently buy similar services, and whether, compared to services they recently used, the new concept seemed beneficial.

This survey research is useful to understand some people’s choices but it doesn’t give qualitative insight into their motivations and behaviours. For this Paper, with help from our friends Roots Research, recruited and scheduled one-to-one interviews with 10 potential customers.

Not only does this approach give insight into what a customer needs, it tests the concept, framing the problems we need to solve with our prototype.

Jon conducting user research Conducting user research from Paper’s home at the Globe Works.

Steve says, - “We were lucky enough to do some of our user testing on site and be in the next room whilst participants played with our product. This is so much more valuable than watching a video back or reading a lengthy report.”

Within five weeks…

Using our insight from the quantitative and qualitative research, we sketched out ideas and pulled them together into a very early version prototype. Then we identified the areas that needed to be further developed into a prototype that can be viewed in a web browser and used much like a finished website.

Usability testing the prototype is a great method ironing out any frustrations the customer may experience, from difficulty in navigation to any confusion with layout or the content. We had three rounds of usability testing with prototyping work between each round.

Steve and Mark discussing sketches Steve (one of our clients) discussing the latest sketches with Mark (Paper’s Design Director).

Steve says, - “We came to Paper with a strong idea of what our solution would need to do and what it would roughly look like. Paper have done a great job of challenging the solution design throughout the process whilst acknowledging that we’re the experts in our industry.


A more traditional digital project will likely still be in the requirements gathering and documentation stages. In 5 weeks we had a validated proposition, a tested prototype, and a clear understand of the user needs.

Steve says, - “Paper really acted as an extension of our small project team. Through working closely together they’ve gained great understanding of our product and there’s a real feeling of us working towards a joint goal.”

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