T23: Low fidelity prototyping for future user interfaces

Sunday, 28 July 2019, 13:30 – 17:30
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Martin Maguire (short bio)

Design School, Loughborough University, United Kingdom



The objectives of this tutorial are to:

  • To review the concept of low-fidelity prototyping and describe the different roles that it can play in the process of UX and UI design.
  • To learn how basic materials and techniques can be used to simulate different UI modalities and forms of UI delivery, and present practical ideas for mocking-up low-fidelity prototypes using simple materials or commonly available gadgets (e.g. mini projector, portable audio-player, or joy buzzer).
  • To gain practice in using these techniques.


Content and Benefits:

Low fidelity prototyping plays an important role in the process of creating a successful user experience (UX) and is used by design teams to test ideas for technological innovation, to conduct simple testing with users, and to develop a solid understanding of how the future application should be developed, which they will later prototype in high fidelity form. Paper prototyping and clickable wireframes are two popular low-fidelity prototyping techniques.

Low-fidelity prototyping for screen-based interfaces is a common activity for UX designers and such prototypes are relatively straightforward to create using paper, cardboard, post-its, etc. Apps are also available that compile photos of sketched screens and link them together to create a clickable prototype that can simulate the design concept effectively.

However the new generation of interfaces are based on a wider range of communication modalities such as voice, gesture, touch or haptics. They may also be provided in different ways e.g. via a wearable device, projected onto a part of the body, presented as virtual or augmented reality, or be ubiquitous (invisible). The challenge is how to create low-fidelity prototypes to simulate these forms of interaction. Wizard of Oz prototyping is a well-established tactic used by developers to give the appearance that an application or program is operational and can form the basis for low-fidelity prototyping of future user interfaces. This idea can be extended to these new forms of interaction.

The intended benefits of the course will be:

  • To give delegates an appreciation the power of low-fidelity prototyping as a way to explore new design ideas that can be realised with limited time and effort.
  • To show how current forms of prototyping using basic materials or simple forms of technology can be extended to explore future styles of user interface.
  • To give practice in the use of bodystorming – to imagine what it would be like if the product existed, and act as though it exists, ideally in the place it would be used.
  • To give delegates the opportunity to share their experiences of applying low-fidelity prototyping techniques.


Target Audience:

This is a half-day tutorial. It will not assume any technical knowledge and is intended for designers, human factors and user experience design practitioners, and HCI researchers interested how ideas for future interfaces can be simulated with basic materials.

Bio Sketch of Presenter:

Martin Maguire has a background in computer studies and ergonomics. His interests are in the usability and accessibility of interactive system, the use of IT in health, information design and intelligence within interactive systems. He has been involved in a number of EU projects to develop human factors tools, methods and guidelines to promote usability within European IT programmes. He has conducted expert and user based studies of online systems for UK organisations such as the Department for Education, the Home Office and the National Health Service. Within the Design School at Loughborough University he teaches HCI, user-centred design and user-experience design. His teaching often involves student exercises where they create mock-ups of interfaces using a range of basic materials.