With names like 'Intergalactic Nostalgia', 'Fear Hive', 'Niche Idiot' and 'Artisanal Particle', it was a miracle to see what sensible propositions our teams came up with at last week's Internet Week experience prototyping workshop.
Panoramic shot, courtesy of @ninjabiscuit
Our mission for the day was to bring together small groups of people who didn't know each other, to create an experience prototype for a mobile app. We're lucky to have Rory Hamilton, a long-time service design practitioner, here at Made by Many and together we devised a hands-on workshop.
Crucially, experience prototyping doesn't solicit opinion -- it provokes instant reaction and emotion. And in this sense, it's an invaluable tool to understanding how users will respond to a proposition, what they like, what they hate and simply what's not working. All of this can be discovered in a very short space of time -- in our case, in a matter of hours.
A few caveats before I go on: (i) we came up with some daft words so that people wouldn't fixate on creating the best idea for an app evaaahh, (ii) nor would they try and crowbar their best-idea-for-an-app-evaahh into the workshop, focussing instead on the process and (iii) ordinarily, we use this kind of process over the course of at least a week or two, if not more.
What the hell is experience prototyping?
Here's a look at the deck Rory prepared to explain:
And what happened at the workshop?
Each group picked two words, which became the name of their app and inspired a proposition within 20 minutes.
From there, we asked them to create an App Store style description to convey what the app was for. Having done that, they presented to the assembled workshop and discussed any thoughts they had for prototyping the experience.
Over the next three hours, the teams set about creating their experience prototypes using sketches, over-sized cardboard phones, post-its, video, tumblr and a good deal of imagination.
The results were delightful, and it was enjoyable just to see the participants, the majority of whom didn't really know what was meant by an experience prototype at 10am that morning, completely getting the process, producing something meaningful, learning, iterating and thoroughly enjoying the whole shebang.
Each group tested their experience prototype on a couple of willing volunteers, and in many cases were able to iterate and improve their prototype in between tests.
What did I learn from the day? That it's really invigorating to make something lo-fi that you can try out on users within a very short space of time; that the process encourages people to be less fussy about the preciousness of ideas and just *do* something; and most of all, that you can learn a hell of a lot without spending much money.
If you'd be interested in taking part in future experience prototyping workshops, please email us at mailbox[at]madebymany[dot]com