ux designer & researcher

Rapid Prototyping

Weekly exploration of prototyping methods and evaluative research

Explore, Build, Test

Every week in our prototyping studio, we were challenged to learn a new prototyping technique. This was followed by evaluations of the effectiveness and usability of our designs.

The following are some of my favorite projects from the class. 


Paper Prototype

Redi - Improving your morning routine

Redi is a paired app that allows you to create a checklist on your phone for your morning routine. You then get a prompt on your smartwatch to go through the checklist prior to leaving for work. 

Phone UI: The screens sit in a pocket behind the window, and tabs are attached for easy slide out. The phone mock has a transparency film over the window, which allows me to use Expo markers to physically check off items on the checklist. Additional sticky notes with pre-written information allowed me to demonstrate what happens when input occurs.

Watch UI: I created a strip of four screens. A second strip for the checklist icons was made of two transparencies and sticky notes, which allowed me to mimic a horizontal scrolling effect on the checklist UI. 

Model Prototyping

Creating a Stud Finder

We were tasked with creating 3 prototypes of a tool or appliance. I built 3 different takes on a handled stud finder. 

Angled stud finder: During testing, the buttons and UI for this model were most clear to both my participants. They also commented on how they liked the weight of the model, but felt the angle was uncomfortable. 

Flashlight stud finder. The lack of proper affordances on the UI really hurt this design. Also the angle was awkward as well as too much weight on the end of the device.

90 degree stud finder. This model was preferred by both users. They found it easy to manipulate at any height, calling the experience of using the device “smooth” and “sturdy”. One participant noted that there was a certain amount of flexibility to the angle of this prototype (due to the felt used to pad the wood panels of the scanner head), which had the benefit of reducing how precise you had to be to keep the head affixed to the wall.  

3D Modeling with Rhino

Perfecting the Stud Finder

I chose to look back at our physical modeling challenge and recreate one of my stud finder designs. This would allow me to make some changes to UI problem areas I encountered during testing while learning about Rhino and CAD software.

Challenges with Rhino: To get my model where it is today, I asked for help from Olivia Thom and learned a lot from watching videos on lynda.com. It was actually really difficult to get the box I made for the head of the stud finder to taper. Olivia showed me how I could create a rectangle inside of the box and then explode the shape and delete the surfaces I didn’t need, which left me with an open tapered shape I could then patch.

Overcoming the tool: It was also really difficult at first to create the UI screen, but in the end I was able to get a bubbled look that I think works pretty well.

Stud finder 3D model.

Stud finder 3D model.

Arduino Prototype

The tea maker

The tea maker allows you to attach a tea bag to an arm which will then dip the bag into and out of your hot water, therefore automating tea making! 

Improvising: After I got the servo and code working, I tested to see if the servo could handle a tea bag and lever as I have no idea how strong the device is. At first I tried using just a small binder clip to attach the bag, but I found the bag did not protrude far enough away from the servo body. I improvised and found a small metal wrench from Ikea as my arm and attached this to the servo using a rubber band.

Perfecting: After that I taped the servo to an empty Sake bottle since that was the perfect height for the length the tea bag string. Upon attaching the servo, I noticed that the angle of the sweep was wrong, so I changed this from 180 to 70 degrees.

My next steps are to add a button to turn the sweep on and off.


See the tea maker in action!


Prototyping Final

Helga: An Arduino-Powered Wearable Anglerfish Mask

We combined physical and electronic prototyping techniques to create wearable technology that mimics the anglerfish's predatory interactions. 

Teammates: Marina Lazarevic and Madison Zeller

My contributions: Papier-mâché, mask construction, painting, head stabilizer, video.

Inspired by Finding Nemo and some further research on the anglerfish species, we wanted to create an electronic wearable that would mimic the anglerfish’s predatory interactions: luring prey with a light-up piece of luminous flesh (called the esca). The opportunity to create something so weird, creative, and challenging was too good to pass up. 

We built Helga using papier-mâché, cardboard, homemade papier-mâché clay, florist wire, masking tape, ping pong balls, plastic tubing, and cotton balls. Creating the body and fins took 4 days, painting and assembling the body took 2 days, and the electrical components took 3 days. 

Courtesy of Madison Zeller.