Purposes of protoytping

The last post proposes key dimensions of prototyping. This post shows the types of purposes of prototyping, which was one the key dimensions.

In the argument of design, especially of design thinking, an overarching objective of prototyping is to get feedback and learn from building and implementing a product or service (Rodriguez & Jacoby, 2007; Lande & Leifer, 2009; Jensen et al., 2015).[1] However, prototyping has multiple functions and play different roles in different contexts (Beaudouin-Lafon & Mackay, 2007), and general purposes of prototyping are identified as three ways: exploration, evaluation and communication (Blomkvist & Holmlid, 2011; e.g., Schneider, 1996; Buchenau & Suri, 2000; Smith & Dunckley, 2002; Voss & Zomerdijk, 2007). For this research, however, replace the term, communication with ‘persuasion’ (e.g., Sanders, 2013) as communication is important also for exploration and evaluation. The word, communication is used to emphasise the communication with external stakeholders such as clients. Thus, ‘persuasion’ as Sanders (2013) uses is a less confusing term.Therefore, this research calls the three purposes exploration, evaluation and persuasion respectively. Communication is regarded as a factor underlying the achievement of the purposes. In some literature, the difference of purposes are emphasised in the terminology, piloting and prototyping, as the former mainly works for exploration and the latter for persuasion (e.g., NESTA, 2011).

Beaudouin-Lafon, M. & Mackay, W.E. (2007) Prototyping Tools and Techniques. In: A. Sears & J. A. Jacko eds. The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook: Fundamentals, Evolving Technologies and Emerging Applications. New York, CRC Press, pp.1017–1039.

Blomkvist, J. & Holmlid, S. (2011) Existing Prototyping Perspectives: Considerations for Service Design. In: Nordes. Helsinki, Finland. Available from: <http://www.nordes.org/opj/index.php/n13/article/view/101> [Accessed 6 January 2016].

Buchenau, M. & Suri, J.F. (2000) Experience prototyping. In: Proceedings of the 3rd conference on Designing interactive systems: processes, practices, methods, and techniques. pp.424–433.

Jensen, M.B., Balters, S. & Steinert, M. (2015) Measuring Prototypes: A Standardized Qantitative Description of prototypes and Their Outcome for Data Collection and Analysis. In: DS 80-2 Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 15) Vol 2: Design Theory and Research Methodology Design Processes,  Milan, Italy, 27-30.07.15.

Lande, M. & Leifer, L. (2009) Prototyping to Learn: Characterizing Engineering Students’ Prototyping Activities and Prototypes. In: Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA. Available from: [Accessed 28 July 2016].

NESTA (2011) Prototyping in Public Services.

Rodriguez, D. & Jacoby, R. (2007) Embracing Risk to Learn, Grow and Innovate.

Sanders, E.B.-N. (2013) Prototyping for the Design Spaces of the Future. In: L. Valentine ed. Prototype: Design and Craft in the 21st Century. London, Bloomsbury Academic, pp.59–74.

Schneider, K. (1996) Prototypes As Assets, Not Toys: Why and How to Extract Knowledge from Prototypes. In: Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Software Engineering. ICSE ’96. Washington, DC, USA, IEEE Computer Society, pp.522–531. Available from: [Accessed 5 May 2016].

Smith, A. & Dunckley, L. (2002) Prototype evaluation and redesign: structuring the design space through contextual techniques. Interacting with Computers, 14 (6), pp.821–843.

Voss, C. & Zomerdijk, L. (2007) Innovation in experiential services: An empirical view. Citeseer.

[1]  Rodriguez and Jacoby (2007) assert that prototyping is “[a] process of accelerating feedback and failure” (p.57).

Prototyping dimensions (for design and design thinking)

Prototyping is an important aspect of design and design thinking. However, there is not a widely agreed model to depict the characteristics.

This is a model of  prototyping dimensions formulated by a synthesis of a range of literature from engineering design to service design. The key dimensions are purpose, context, process and engagement. They are not completely divided but rather interdependent. Obviously, there are many ways to represent the concept of prototyping, but this model is intended to be as simple as possible to be a practical model.

The traditional arguments  tend to focus on the characteristics of prototypes such as fidelity, as prototyping is mainly used for tangible outcomes. However, as the domain of design has expanded to be more strategic, the outcomes of prototyping have also turned to be more abstract and intangible. Thus, design practitioners should not dismiss factors surrounding prototypes such as contexts.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me or leave a message.

References

Beaudouin-Lafon, M. & Mackay, W.E. (2007) Prototyping Tools and Techniques. In: A. Sears & J. A. Jacko eds. The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook: Fundamentals, Evolving Technologies and Emerging Applications. New York, CRC Press, pp.1017–1039.

Blomkvist, J. & Holmlid, S. (2011) Existing Prototyping Perspectives: Considerations for Service Design. In: Nordes. Helsinki, Finland.

Jensen, M.B., Balters, S. & Steinert, M. (2015) Measuring Prototypes: A Standardized Qantitative Description of Prototyes and Their Outcome for Data Collection and Analysis. In: DS 80-2 Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 15) Vol 2: Design Theory and Research Methodology Design Processes,  Milan, Italy, 27-30.07.15.

Lim, Y.-K., Stolterman, E. & Tenenberg, J. (2008) The anatomy of prototypes: Prototypes as filters, prototypes as manifestations of design ideas. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), 15 (2), p.7.

McCurdy, M., Connors, C., Pyrzak, G., Kanefsky, B. & Vera, A. (2006) Breaking the Fidelity Barrier: An Examination of Our Current Characterization of Prototypes and an Example of a Mixed-fidelity Success. In: Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. CHI ’06. New York, NY, USA, ACM, pp.1233–1242.

 

Bad can be good: undervalued things as a key source of innovation

The article about Imperfect Produce reminded me of the story of Moneyball. One of the key points of the two things is to identify undervalued things.

What Imperfect Produce provides is ugly but good quality and less pricey vegetables. They would be abandoned otherwise. Although the main theme is different, the key point of Moneyball is similar. There are baseball players who contribute to victories but are dismissed.

Hidden under-evaluated gems can be a key  source of innovation. This could be underpinned by the concept of disruptive innovation (Christensen, 2003).

Let’s think:
Is there anything undervalued by the market? Would you be able to come up with ideas to turn them to be shiny treasures?

Reference:
Christensen, C.M. (2003) The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business. Reprint. Harper Paperbacks.

Photo by Brettf

A pitfall of visualisation

Visualisation is clearly a key element of design thinking or design-led approach, but there is a pitfall: the visualised material is always just a representation of reality and not reality itself. Once the format of visualisation is fixed, you have to be careful as you might unconsciously distort the fact to fit into the visual.

As the fact is basically always relative, it
is almost impossible to capture the reality in a pure form. But still if you turn visualisation as a mean to the purpose of your activity, it could lead you to a wrong direction.

Let’s think:
What is the inforgraphics or visialised material you trust most?
What is the gap with reality?Photo by Matthew Kenwrick

A quote for when you face something feeling impossible from “Wicked problems in design thinking” by R. Buchanan

what many people call “impossible” may actually only be a limitation of imagination that can be overcome by better design thinking

p.21, Buchanan, R. (1992) Wicked problems in design thinking. Design Issues, 8 (2), pp.5–21.

In the paper, Buchanan describes design thinking (or design itself) as a new liberal art of technological culture.

A quote from On Innovations by Francis Bacon (1625)

he that will not apply new remedies, must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator

p.242, Bacon, F. (2002) Francis Bacon: The Major Works. B. Vickers ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
(The original was arguably written in 1625)

It is interesting that the speed of innovation was a concern already in 1600s.

If you are interested in the whole section, click here.

Photo by Internet Archive Book Images

What Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, sees in great thinkers in common

[The great thinkers] all shared was optimism, openness to experimentation, a love of storytelling, a need to collaborate, and an instinct to think with their hands – to build, to prototype, and to communicate complex ideas with masterful simplicity.

p.242, Brown, T. (2009) Change by design: how design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Photo by Erik Daniel Drost