Chapter 12: Design, Prototyping and Construction

Chapter Introduction | Web Resources | In-Depth Activity Comments | Teaching Materials | Quickvote


The main goals of this chapter are to accomplish the following:

  • Describe prototyping and the different types of prototyping activities.
  • Enable you to produce simple prototypes from the models developed during the requirements activity.
  • Enable you to produce a conceptual model for a product and justify your choices.
  • Explain the use of scenarios and prototypes in design.
  • Introduce both physical computing kits and software development kits and their role in construction.


Design, prototyping, and construction fall within the Develop phase of the double diamond of design, introduced in Chapter 2, “The Process of Interaction Design,” in which solutions or concepts are created, prototyped, tested, and iterated. The final product emerges iteratively through repeated design-evaluation-redesign cycles involving users, and prototypes facilitate this process. There are two aspects to design: the conceptual part, which focuses on the idea of a product, and the concrete aspect, which focuses on the details of the design. The former involves developing a conceptual model that captures what the product will do and how it will behave, while the latter is concerned with the details of the design, such as menu types, haptic feedback, physical widgets, and graphics. The two are intertwined, and concrete design issues will require some consideration in order to prototype ideas, and prototyping ideas will lead to an evolution of the concept.

For users to evaluate the design of an interactive product effectively, designers prototype their ideas. In the early stages of development, these prototypes may be made of paper and cardboard, or ready-made components pulled together to allow evaluation, while as the design progresses, they become more polished, tailored, and robust so that they resemble the final product.

This chapter presents the activities involved in progressing a set of requirements through the cycles of prototyping and construction. The next section explains the role and techniques of prototyping and then explores how prototypes may be used in the design process. The chapter ends by discussing physical computing and software development kits (SDKs), which provide a basis for construction.