A2: Experience Prototyping

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In this assignment, you will act as your own prototype to understand what features and/or changes are needed to give your users the experience that your app intends to give.

Step 1: Iterate your Point of View

Incorporate the feedback you received from your studio TA into a more refined POV.

Step 2: Experience Prototypes

You will conduct two experience prototypes, where you simulate the experience of using the app that you will be creating. You must have different users between the two iterations. Think about ways that your app can address the issues that are at the core of your point of view. An experience prototype actively engages your users in the task that your app performs with you acting as the facilitator/computer. This means that you are pretending to be your app and will perform all the functions that you expect your app to do. The experience prototype will give you an idea of what kinds of functionality your app will need and how it needs to be designed in order to effectively complete its intended functionality. After the first experience prototype, gain feedback from the users you interacted with and make some improvements to your prototype before conducting the next experience prototype.

For example, if your app intends to help two people meet together for lunch, you should be the one communicating with both the users to set up the lunch meeting. If your intended app asks for calendar availability, suggests a time, confirms the lunch meeting, and sends a reminder, it will be your responsibility to perform all of those actions yourself. You would not attend the lunch itself. After the planned lunch meeting, follow up with the users to gain feedback about their experience and how you can improve your prototype. It may be helpful to prepare a few questions, such as "How did my reminders affect whether or not you showed up to the lunch meeting?" or "What interactions on my part helped you successfully have a lunch meeting and which parts did not?"

Document each of your experience prototypes with about half a page of single spaced writing. The write-up should address the following:

  • Description of the app idea that you are testing
  • What were the steps required for planning and what was included in executing the task?
  • How successful was the execution? What was not?
  • What adjustments did you make as the facilitator after your first prototype and why? What were the differences between your first experience prototype and the second? Which one was more successful and why?
  • Feedback from users after each experience prototype
  • What did you learn from doing the experience prototype and how will you apply the knowledge to your app?

Step 3: Make an Inspiration board

Team Inspiration Board:

  1. Start an inspiration board by listing 5-10 words that relate to your design idea or point of view. These words can be anything -- from similar designs to feelings that the idea evokes.
  2. Once you’ve listed your words, come up with at least five inspirations, and share them by providing links or images within your assignment submission. For each inspiration, give a brief (1-2 sentences) and insightful explanation of why you chose it (What did you take away from it? What did you learn from it?... In other words, why did it inspire you?). Each of these inspirations should offer a different perspective to the design you are working on.

Your inspiration can be existing applications, artifacts, products, services, or anything that relates to your concept. Here, web search is your friend (useful sites include Google, the ACM Digital Library, TechCrunch...). The relationship could be very concrete or very abstract. A carrot-peeler or a measuring cup can be your inspiration for an elegant and ergonomic software interface design.

As an example, if you were making a travel app, your words could be: relaxing, paradise, getaway, Europe, blue, etc. Then, some inspirations could be tripadvisor.com, souvenirs, twitter, Bank of America mobile banking app, and so on. You should not be submitting inspirations with tripadvisor.com, travelocity.com, expedia.com, as these websites all offer the same type of services and therefore, do not add anything “diverse” to the set. While it’s true that Google has a clean minimal layout and the iPhone has a beautiful design, citing those as inspiration wouldn’t be very specific.

Here's a concrete example of an inspiration board, found below the overview section, where you can see the existing products/systems/etc. that help establish the problem space being explored.

Benefits of Inspiration Boards:

  • Making an inspiration board helps you understand the existing landscape.
  • Inspiration boards can inspire you to improve upon an existing service or go in a totally different direction.

Step 4: Find the Open Areas

Make a table listing your inspirations and attributes they have. This table will serve as a competitive analysis for your prototype versus the existing products in the world. Compare each inspiration to see what attributes some inspirations are missing to get an idea of what unique features you might want to include in order to make your prototype stand apart. What areas aren't covered that you might want to focus on?

Check out this competitive analysis to get an idea of what a good example of this part might be.

In Studio

During studio, click the button below to fill out the Student Code of Conduct after forming teams.

Student Code of Conduct

Assignment Submission

Submit a single formatted pdf file with the following items concatenated within it:

  • Write-up of experience prototypes, and your Point of View.
  • 5-10 words that relate to your design idea.
  • Five existing inspirations that relate to your thinking and explanations of why you chose those designs.
  • Table of competitive analysis.
Submit your formatted pdf here

Evaluation criteria & Grading rubric

The rubric below contains criteria that are worth one point each and will be graded independently and in a binary fashion.

  1. Experience prototype #1 makes an explicit connection to the point of view.
  2. Experience prototype #1’s execution and functions are sufficiently detailed, such that another facilitator can perform them.
  3. Experience prototype #1’s feedback leads to a clear plan or insight that is applicable to the next iteration.
  4. Experience prototype #2 makes an explicit connection to the point of view.
  5. Experience prototype #2’s execution and functions are sufficiently detailed, such that another facilitator can perform them.
  6. Experience prototype #2’s feedback leads to a clear plan or insight that is applicable to the next iteration.
  7. At least 5 visual inspirations with clear explanations were on the inspiration board.
  8. The 5-10 words included relate to and strengthen your design idea.
  9. At least one of the inspirations shows the best way the user could satisfy the need today, and explain why it falls short
  10. Inspirations were diverse with insightful explanations.
  11. Competitive analysis shows a table of at least four competitors.
  12. Competitive analysis compares at least five different features.