Human-Computer Interaction

Spring 2016 :: ECE 69500 :: Purdue University

This is an archived site from Spring 2016 ()
Due 2/26

Low-fidelity prototype


In this exercise, you will create a low-fidelity prototype of a new interface concept, test it with two people, and make a video reporting your findings.

Doing the exercise

Create prototype

Create a low fidelity prototype using either paper prototyping or a low fidelity prototyping application of your choice (e.g., Balsamiq, Prototyping on Paper, etc.). It can be of any new software interface for any web, mobile, or desktop application. For example, you could continue with the one you used in class, or create a new prototype of your project idea, an idea from your research, or something else entirely. The only requirement is that it must be of something that doesn't exist, yet. It's okay if it builds on something existing, as long as there's plenty of new interface to test.


Test your interface concept with two people who are not familiar with it. For this exercise, you are testing the first-time experience.

  1. Give a brief introduction of what the new interface will do, but do not tell them how to use it. (Example: “This new web map service will help you find gardens with flowers currently in bloom on a given date.”)
  2. Give them a goal. It should require at least 8 clicks/taps/interactions. (Example: “Your job is to find a 1-mile walking path that passes at least 20 gardens with flowers that will be in full bloom on May 1.”)
  3. Ask them to think aloud. That means they should let you know what they are looking for, trying to accomplish, satisfied with, or frustrated with. Some people find this easier than others. Encourage them gently, but don't force them. Let them know that you probably won't help them if they get stuck, unless they are confused with the prototype itself (e.g., what is a button).
  4. After they are finished, briefly review any difficulties that you observed (if any) to make sure you understood.

Video report

Create a video walk-through of your prototype. You will want to have someone else hold the camera. For this part, you can be both the user and the operator, if necessary. Your video should include the following:

  1. Introduction. Briefly explain what the interface is supposed to enable (1-2 sentences) and the goal you gave to your participants (1-2 sentences). If you used software, mention what application you used to make your prototype.
  2. Walk-through. Do a walk-through of your prototype, showing how you intended for users to accomplish that goal using the new interface.
  3. Analysis. Using your prototype, summarize the difficulties that you observed during your test. In this step, discuss only flaws in your interface concept, not issues with the prototype itself. This should be a critique of your interface design concept, with the tests as evidence. Do not simply read off what happened in the two tests. You do not need to record your study participants, although you may if you want to and they consent.
  4. Recap. Briefly discuss how well the capabilities and limitations of low-fidelity prototyping allowed you to adequately test your interface concept.


You may either post your video to YouTube (or other video sharing service) or make the video file available to the instructor via a file sharing service of your choice (e.g., Boilerbackpack, Dropbox, etc.). Videos that are posted publically may be linked from the course web page. If you send a video file, please let me know if you would like it posted on the course web page or not.

Send the link or download instructions as an email to the instructor with the following subject line: exercise 1: prototype [ece695hci]

Optional: Let me know how long this assignment took you, and if you have any feedback to make it better for next time this class is offered.

Do not turn in your prototype itself.

In case of difficulty sending/uploading the video file, send the SHA1 hash of the file. Then, you can send the video file later.


An ideal submission will have the following qualities:

  1. Test with 2 participants.
  2. At least 8 steps in the goal given to participants.
  3. Prototype clearly resembles the interface it is made to represent
  4. Prototype appears adequate to test whether the interface would work
  5. Analysis is a critique of your interface design concept, and not a chronological reading of what happened in your tests.
  6. Video is fluid, and easy to follow, hear, and see.
  7. Demonstrate understanding of the capabilities and limitations of paper prototyping.