Methods and Terms

The following methods and terms are commonly used in HCI and Rapid Prototyping. I outline how each of these are treated in my RP class.

  • Card Sorting: A pre-protoyping methodology that we do as an activity in the Rapid Prototyping course.
  • Sketching/Storyboarding: Sketching and storyboarding are design tasks that have many proponents in HCI, and this type of activity can be seen as an early form of prototyping. We definitely do some of this in my Rapid Prototyping course.
  • Wireframing: Though some might not consider this an RP method, I teach this early in 3150. This is similar to sketching, but it can also be done digitally. There are many tools available for desktop and for the iPad to help you do digital wireframing.
  • Paper Prototyping: I teach students this method, and combine it with Wizard of Oz testing as well as video prototyping. Carolyn Snyder’s book is an excellent resource.
  • Video Prototyping: I heard about video prototyping initially from Wendy McKay at INRIA in France. This is a great method that helps students really figure out the conceptual issues and motivation behind their design. The idea here is to record a person interacting with a prototype or mockup, and then edit out all the parts where screens are switched, etc., so that the final video gives the appearance of a working demo (though some prototypes are quite obviously prototypes, even in the video). This is good to help students understand the narrative of their design, and to get them thinking early about the context of use and whether the product makes sense in that context.
  • Blank Model Prototyping: This is the use of clay or other physical materials to model devices. This helps students to focus on form factor.
  • Digital Prototyping: This is the use of digital tools to create interactive prototypes that users can actually play with on a desktop or mobile device. Similar to digital wireframes, but interactive.
  • Evolutionary Prototyping: Evolutionary prototyping is more of a distinction of longevity. An evolutionary prototype is one that turns into your final product, and doesn’t have to be thrown out. Prototyping an interface using Java Netbeans, and then connecting the back end to the real data sources after the interaction has been well-tested and refined is a good example of evolutionary prototyping.

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