As a first-year HCDE student entering this class, I didn’t know much about sketching, let alone any prototyping methods. I assumed I would learn how to do make rough wireframes for websites and mobile apps while simultaneously improving my sketching skills. Needless to say, I was pretty inexperienced and did not have much of an idea of what I was getting into.
Some of the immediate challenges I faced included trying to tie together the idea in my head with what I was sketching out on paper — and then narrowing down that idea into something feasible in the given time for the assignment. I mainly had this issue with on-wireframe projects because I didn’t really know what kinds of physical objects I could build by myself. I would usually start of thinking about a large-scale idea for the assignment, but then I would have trouble translating that idea to my sketchbook. While narrowing my scope proved to be a challenge, the process of trying to draw everything through sketches, then having to focus on a few key functionalities was a good learning experience. In my more recent assignments, I was able to think of an idea and isolate a few parts of it that I wanted to focus on. I liked the process of defining my own specifications for each assignment.
The exercises in this class were probably the most helpful. I enjoyed working in groups on different prototyping missions and those group projects left me inspired to take on the assignment for that weekend. The critique sessions, however, were not as helpful for me. I did my user testing for our videos before having critique sessions on Tuesdays, so that information would have been useful for me while I was doing user testing.
I really wanted to work on my mobile prototyping skills for the final project because I see myself working on mobile apps more in the future. Compared to where I started in this class, I think I have come a long way in how I implement the design process. I tried to pay special attention to iterative design based off of user testing, and a strong part of my project was the user flow I created with help of sketching and paper prototyping. One of the main areas I should have focused more on was where to place content outside of the main three functionalities of the app. I also wish I had budgeted my time to allow for a greater development of the “manage your finances” part as well as creating a richer home screen with more interaction. If I had started another prototyping project, I would probably have tried to come up with a more creative way spin on my project idea — possibly including 3D printing or laser cutting. After creating my interactive prototype on Proto.io, I started thinking about physical wallets that could perform similar actions as the mobile app — so this project still has a future outside of this class.
Even though I worked alone on the final project, working on group exercises and participating in the critiques was a valuable experience. Since the projects we were working on were meant to be prototypes and not polished pieces, it was fun and interesting to see everyone contribute creative and open-ended ideas. This was a good environment for me to share my own ideas that may or may not necessarily be feasible.
Overall, I really enjoyed the class and the opportunity to brainstorm and come up with creative ideas without being bogged down with trying to come up with a flawless design or concept. I will definitely be using prototyping methods in my future projects for usability and user testing purposes.