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It depends on the stage of development. I think it's important to do  
something on paper at some point, and I prefer a "medium grade"  
prototype which can be generated in something like OmniGraffle (Mac),  
Inspiration (Mac/Windows), Dia (Windows), Visio (Win), Illustrator or  
even Word/PowerPoint/Excel. I've had most success combining a flow  
chart/outline with prototype screens.

I can say from experience that if you create a Web-based prototype  
first, even if it's a wireframe, most people will be distracted by  
aesthetic issues and not focus on functionality or content. Another  
problem is that people may think you are presenting a final  
information architecture (http://www.newfangled.com/prototyping_website_structure 
) when of course, you're not.

If it's static (and not too "beautiful"), people seem to understand  
that it is a tool for defining functinality/content and are more  
comfortable messing with it. I always bring paper copies for people to  
scribble on.

FYI - I've seen claims that you should always present pencil drawings  
only, but I prefer something digital so that edits and versions are  
easier to track. I think what's important is that the client feels  
comfortable scribbling on your prototype (I provide copies). In any  
case, it's still an iterative process.

My two cents.

Elizabeth
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Elizabeth J. Pyatt, Ph.D.
Instructional Designer
Education Technology Services, TLT/ITS
Penn State University
[log in to unmask], (814) 865-0805 or (814) 865-2030 (Main Office)

210 Rider Building  (formerly Rider II)
227 W. Beaver Avenue
State College, PA   16801-4819
http://www.personal.psu.edu/ejp10/psu
http://tlt.psu.edu

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