T23: The role of rapid prototyping in a UX design environment

Wednesday, 28 July 2021, 08:00 – 12:00 EDT (Eastern Daylight Time - Washington DC)
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Martin Maguire (short bio)

School of Design and Creative Arts
Loughborough University, United Kingdom



The objectives of this tutorial are to:

  • Review the concept of rapid or low-fidelity prototyping and describe how it can be applied at different stages of the UX (user experience) design process.
  • Learn how simple materials, gadgets and techniques can be used to simulate and test different kinds of interface (screen, VR, AR, aural, haptic, tangible).
  • Gain practice in using these techniques.


Content and benefits:

Low fidelity prototyping plays an important role in the process of creating a successful UX and is used by design teams to develop and test ideas for technological innovation. A key strength is that different stakeholders can participate directly in making prototypes which enables co-design.

The course will be based-upon the UX design process. Following user research and problem definition, techniques for generating design ideas such as Crazy 8 sketching and Four Step Sketch will be described. It will show how the ideation stage can also include rapid visualisation as part of the discussion to demonstrate ideas quickly. As the design concept evolves, low-fidelity prototypes can be developed, both as a communication tool between design team members, and as a basis for test sessions with users to get early feedback on the usefulness, usability and desirability of the application.

While paper-prototyping is often the simplest way to demonstrate and work through the early design vision, simple software tools can also be used to create clickable wireframes to bring ideas to life in a quick and effective way. Low-fidelity prototypes can also be taken ‘into the wild’ (i.e. the real environment) to explore how the design works in context.

The course will demonstrate specific techniques for creating low-fidelity prototypes such as the use of UI symbol stencils to neatly draw paper screen layouts, simulating haptics with a smart button, importing sketches into an online tool to simulate VR, and using cardboard frames as a basis for an AR experience. Practice will be given in making and applying these techniques to help develop skills that can then be applied in practice.

The course be based on the following sessions:

  • An introduction the UX design process
  • The use low-fidelity prototyping for different kinds of UI with practical examples
  • Management of the prototyping process
  • Practical exercise, following a design brief, to develop an application with the use of low-fidelity prototyping at the ideation, prototype development and testing stages.

The intended benefits of the course will be:

  • To give delegates an appreciation of the value of low-fidelity prototyping to help create and explore new design ideas in an efficient way.
  • To show how basic materials can be used to simulate a wide range of user interface types.
  • To give practice in operating low-fidelity prototypes and observing their use.
  • To give delegates the opportunity to share their experiences of applying rapid prototyping techniques in their own projects or organisations.


Target Audience:

This is half-day tutorial will not assume any technical knowledge and is intended for relative beginners wishing to develop their UX design skills. It is also relevant for technical developers wanting to learn how low-fidelity prototypes can help to make an application more user-centred and usable.

Bio Sketch of Presenter:

Martin Maguire has a background in computer studies and ergonomics. His interests are in the usability and accessibility of interactive systems and applications, the use of IT in health, information design and intelligence within interactive systems. He has been involved in a number of EU projects to develop human factors tools, methods and guidelines to promote usability within European IT programmes. He has conducted expert and user-based studies of online systems for UK organisations such as the Department for Education, Home Office and National Health Service. Within the Design School at Loughborough University he teaches HCI, user-experience design and inclusive design.