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Prototyping Methods





Credit Hours


This course explores the growing number of prototyping methods for design.

Although prototyping is often thought of as coming at the end of the design process to verify a solution, our approach maintains that prototyping needs to happen throughout the process from initial research to storytelling, to concept generation, and lastly to refine and improve a selected direction. Prototyping provides designers with an understanding of user behaviors, foster communication, gives an ability to utilize constraints and communicate their solutions to all participants for effective and insightful design decision-making.

Learning Objectives

Students will gain an understanding of (through short practice exercises and short lectures) fundamental types of prototypes and the logic for when and how to employ these techniques.

  • Framework for prototyping: Inspire, Evolve, Validate
  • Experience vs. resolution
  • Brainstorming
  • Inspiration collage
  • Franken-prototypes
  • Scenarios
  • Sketch modeling
  • Build to think

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate the application of methods covered through prototyping products, services interactions, and small-scale environments.
  • Able to discern and describe the appropriateness of different methods for different contexts and positions within a design development cycle.

Format & Grading

Prototyping exercises will be done independently; however, collaboration among students is encouraged. Classes will consist of studying a range of prototyping techniques, demonstrations of drawing and building techniques, and hands-on work to improve a student’s abilities and craft skills to draw and to build. Exercises will include sketching, concept drawing, building scale mock-ups, constructing scenarios, and possibly 3D modeling. Students with a range of experience levels will benefit from the class. Grades are based on the student’s contribution to discussion and the quantity, quality, and progress of his/her work. Quality work will be highly tangible, conceptually strong, and visually clear.

Enrollment Restrictions

No prerequisites. This course is open to all Institute of Design students