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Prototyping as a Multi-Tool

How to use prototyping for persuasion, ideation, requirements definition, conceptual modeling and usability evaluation

Prototyping is most often associated with usability testing, but that is only one focus and perhaps not even the most important one. Prototypes can be useful for generating ideas and requirements, developing ideas for apps, and creating excitement. This tutorial will consist of short introductions to a series of prototyping methods (ranging from sketchy to interactive), exercises to provide practice in the methods, and question and answer time.

Tutorial by Chauncey Wilson (Autodesk)
User Research
9:00am to 5:15pm on Monday, June 04, 2012

About the Tutorial

In this course, I will present entertaining mini-lectures about prototyping methods and how they can be used for different purposes throughout the product development cycle. After a short introduction, we will work together on exercises related to each mini-lecture. Following the exercises, we will have a Q&A session about the method and how it would fit into your particular organizational environments. The modules are listed below.

Module 1: Braindrawing. Braindrawing is an ideation method that can be used with internal or external stakeholders. Braindrawing is a graphical round robin technique for rapidly generating interface concepts, requirements, and feature ideas. You can use braindrawing to get ideas for "Home pages", mobile apps, and desktop products. We will break into small teams that will work independently for a short time on a concept design and will then ask people to move from their original concept sketch to another sketch where you can add or modify the new sketch.

Module 2: Role Playing. There are a variety of role-playing methods that can be used to understand the design devices or the impact of various design issues on the user experience of teams (like those in medical centers) who must work closely together, under stress, with complex equipment. Bodystorming, for example, involves interaction with a rough prototype or imagining scenarios with a hypothetical system. We will discuss techniques for role playing and conduct some role-playing exercises that show how you can understand person-equipment interactions.

Module 3: Essential Prototyping. Essential prototyping uses simple tools to create the general spatial arrangement of a product and note where "clumps" of features will go. This is a form of paper prototyping that would be used in the planning and problem definition phase. Essential prototypes form the basis for more detailed paper prototypes.

Module 4: Workflow prototyping. There are a variety of methods for both understanding and the workflow of users. Most of the methods involve the use of task cards laid out in combinations of serial and parallel subtasks. Examples of card-based workflow methods include CARD, CUTA, and reality maps. Workflow prototypes can be used for requirements feedback, conceptual design, and usability evaluations.

Module 5: Storyboard prototyping. Storyboarding is a way to represent users and tasks with some context and flow. Storyboards can used to describe a task; a day in the life of a user, future (blue sky) concepts, or how different products are used together. Storyboards are useful for generating empathy when you can't actually talk to your users. In this module, we will develop a storyboard and discuss some of the best practices for choosing what goes in a storyboard "frame" and how to conduct storyboard walkthroughs.

Module 6: Current Prototyping Tools. This module will focus on factors affecting the choice of prototyping tools for your environment. Participants will receive an annotated list of prototyping tools with cost, usability, and feature information. The list will have tools for prototyping mobile apps, tablet apps, Web interfaces, and desktop applications.

Module 7: Discussion and Final Question and Answer.