Prototyping and User Testing

The way in which we view/understand prototyping is vital in how the final product that we create performs in the final stages of the design process. It is not just how you think/want the product to finish up looking like. The prototyping process should be for testing a design against its target user and their needs for the final product.

In prototyping it is important to focus on the function of the design over the form. It is important for understanding how the user reacts to the proposed design of the product and taking note of what they notice about how it works, and asking them what they expect will happen at each stage of the prototype design.

In this video, a designer tests his website paper prototype against the target user, which in this case is a small child. Throughout, he asked many questions and explains the reasons behind them. He allows the child to say why they would select a specific button and then explain what they thought the result of selecting that option should be. This provides a big advantage to the designer, it allows them to identify unforseen actions by the users and implement this into their final design. It also helps a designers to learn if the users will understand visual metaphors such as icons that afford action.

With this, I can use these methods when it comes to the prototyping stages of my interactive installation project. The video especially has given me a guide on the sort of questions I should be asking towards my target user group when presenting them with my prototype. With this guidance I should be able to use the prototyping stage to get some feedback on how it will work at the final stage of the design process.

References:

– BlueDucksLab, 2010. Example Usability Test with a Paper Prototype. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wQkLthhHKA. [Accessed on: 6 November 2014].

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