Experience prototyping

A methodology for designing with context in mind

We are moving into the contextual era! People live their life in motion always on the go and always relying on the mobile to cover their needs.

What moves us in that contextual direction? Customers behaviours and needs in different situation can arise anywhere and anytime. Today people expect that they always have a digital service that take care of these needs with relevance. Those different situations are loaded with context and that is what moves us in in the contextual direction. Wearables like smartwatches will change the user behaviour and take us even further in that contextual direction.

Those who stay centered on the consumer’s context and intent in different situations will not only deliver on activities and needs, they’ll also seamlessly enhance the consumer experience and build brand preference along the way.

We are moving into the contextual era

When we’re designing services for a life in motion we have to design for a context. Wearables like smartwatches moves us in that direction. This is where Experience Prototyping comes into play to give us the effect that we want. Experience prototyping is valuable when you design a service that adapts to the situation you’re in.

So you can’t hide behind a desk doing it.

What is experience prototyping?

An Experience Prototype is any kind of representation, in any medium, that is designed to understand, explore or communicate what it might be like to engage with the product, space or system we are designing.

Experience Prototyping is research through design and learning through practice

What is a context?

Time: Of day/year

Space: Environment

Relationship: Human, machine, system etc.

A context can be natural, constructed or imagined. But remember that it’s an important component when validating ideas or when you get new ideas.

So where do we start?

Start by understanding the user, existing user activities and experiences in an context.

Ok! What’s next?

Understand how the digital touch points and interfaces support these user activities and enhance the user experience in a that specific context.

Same context different digital touchpoint

Same context different digital touchpoint

Push it!

Got it? Good. Now we can start to push things a bit further by exploring and evaluating future design ideas.

Might this be the way we shop in this specific context in the future?

Don’t forget to simulate the data

At this stage you can start to simulate contextual data in the service connected to time, relationship and place.

From there we can begin to give a contextual meaning to the service.

But hey, that’s not all!

Experience Prototyping is also an excellent technique when you want to communicate ideas to an audience. It’s easy for the audience to zoom into the context and experience the problem at hand. This gives a better understanding of the idea you want to communicate.


Experience prototyping is valuable when you design a service that adapts to the situation you are in

  • Design for understanding and learn through practice
  • Really start to understand the user, user activities and their problems in a context
  • Then you add the digital touchpoint supporting these activities and enhance the experience. Try out different digital touchpoint to learn which one the user prefer and really enhance the experience.
  • Experiment and iterate to learn and refine
  • First zoom into the context. Then you can start to innovate and push it
  • Don’t forget to simulate the data to learn what gives meaning and makes it personal to the user

I work at apegroup, a digital agency un Stockholm, Sweden and we believe in a life in motion. This is where our users live their life nowadays. Constantly in motion and always on the fly. Fact, not fiction, people.

The reason why we even get up in the morning is that we want to deliver services that embraces continuity, are contextually aware, speaks the lingo of connectivity and understands the importance of coherency. We firmly believe that this is where we can make a difference for people and brands.