has anybody used participatory design combined with paper prototyping to gather insight as to the best interaction design solution?
I'm specifically thinking of having users organize, in a guided session, paper widgets and content modules of different sizes to reflect the access they would like to see on the interface to different content items according to their needs and uses. This would be like an extension of conventional card sorting (which we have already done), but to gauge users' needs in terms of access and interaction with the contents.
For example, I would like to see if would they mix a number of content items from different sections on the same page on account of their frequence of use, order them in strict topic categories, prefer lists of quick access links, or a hybrid model etc.
Understanding that the users are not designers, I think this could be worthwhile, though I wonder if it's not too ambitious or complicated to be useful.
This situation has come up because we have 2 different groups of stakeholders leaning towards 2 different info arquitecture models; one more conventional with a menu for different sections, and the other, a more dynamic, less structured and flatter hierarchy with everything visible and only one click away from the first screen.
In the latter case, I suspect content could be hidden forever or it would become unscalable, so maybe a hybrid is required, but that's where I'd like the users' input!
Thoughts, advice, opinions, paper prototype stencils all welcome!