Course Syllabus



For a printer-friendly version of the full course syllabus, with detailed information about grading and policies, see this file: HCDE451-Syllabus.pdf.


Introduces students to a variety of prototyping techniques for different kinds of user experience design problems. Structured as a series of independent explorations, each on a different prototyping methodology, aimed at many platforms. Prerequisite: HCDE 318.


Upon completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • analyze a design and determine the most appropriate and useful prototyping technique to evaluate the design.
  • research, locate, and use information sources for self-education in prototyping tools.
  • plan, create, and build a prototype system on a wide variety of platforms, using appropriate toolsets.
  • organize, run, and document a simple user test using prototypes they have constructed.
  • evaluate the results of user tests, and analyze and report on them in a professional manner.
  • understand the significance of the test results and use that to inform their design process.
  • articulate the rationale for prototyping in general as a design tool, and be able to advise others on strategies and techniques.


This course will introduce students to a wide variety of prototyping techniques for different kinds of user experience design problems and platforms. The course is structured as a series of independent explorations, each on a different topic within the broad field of prototyping techniques. A short final project requires students to develop and evaluate a prototype for a design project of their choice, using one or more of the techniques they explored during the course.

This is a fast-paced, studio course oriented towards hands-on exploration with a minimum of didactic lectures. It incorporates critique and much self-directed work in structured explorations. Weekly studio sessions will incorporate a critique of the prior week's assignment. A lecture/demonstration will introduce the week's new prototyping technique, and students will have a chance to explore the technique in short, hands-on exercises. A larger homework project will be assigned, which is often begun in the studio, and completed outside of class.

Most in-class exercises will be done in small groups, but the majority of homework assignments are individual projects. Students are free to collaborate and assist each other on the homework projects. The spirit of a studio-based practice is that learning happens by talking, making, and critiquing in groups. Still, there is real value in solving problems with your own head and hands, and so the work you submit must be yours, even if you have been assisted in its development by your peers.


Week Topic Explorations
1 Overview
Low fidelity 2D
Context, syllabus
Paper prototyping
2 Low fidelity 3D Analog models
3 Medium fidelity 2½D Laser cutting
4 Medium fidelity 3D 3D modeling and printing
5 Linear narrative (4D) Video prototyping
6 Interactive – behavioral (5D) "Wizard of Oz"
7 Interactive – web|mobile (5D) Wireframes
8 Final project Project proposal
Project lab
9 Final project Project lab
10 Final project Project lab
Final exhibit
F Final reflection no class


Category Assignment Weight
Projects 85%
Paper prototype (2D lo-fi) 9%
Model prototype (3D lo-fi) 9%
Flat object prototype (2½D med-fi, laser-cut) 9%
Solid object prototype (3D med-fi, 3D printed) 9%
Video prototype 9%
Behavioral prototype 9%
Interactive prototype 9%
Final project 22%
Process 15%
Sketchbook 5%
Final exhibit 5%
Final reflection 5%
Total 100%

Course Summary:

Date Details Due