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Module 4 Assignment: Reflect on personal fabrication for rapid prototyping

Posted on August 18, 2020

Human-Computer Interaction for User Experience Design

Question 1

Consider the high-performance applications you learned about in Unit 1. How could high-performance applications affect your industry or organization? What workplace processes or interactions could be changed by such applications? What do you think the impact of this would be?

Write between 200 and 350 words in which you reflect on the potential impact of high-performance applications on your industry and organization.


Current development tools—e.g. VS Code, Unity, XCode, etc.—and design tools—e.g. Photoshop, Sketch, Figma, etc.—are completely separated. They cannot be merged, first because their outputs are completely distinct, but also because their user bases and the skills to use those apps do not really overlap.

There are many articles, good practices, heuristics, and even parodies about where the two worlds meet, but nothing is contained within a specific app. There are even many experts that attempt to address what to do when neither domain follows good practices—e.g. implementing accessibility properly.

A potential intelligent app could watch the state of a project and offer appropriate recommendations. Here are two very quick examples of how these warnings could present things not related only to their domain:

– A warning could be presented to designers if they use colors that are not contrasted enough to be visible for sigh-impaired people;

– A warning could be presented to a developer if they implement components or fonts that do not respect the styleguide created by designers and approved by the client.

A good parallel to make is word processors: they rely on many rules and contexts to present suggestions as writers progress in their text, but never stopping them in their tracks—after all, not all issues need to be addressed right away. It could be the same for a development-design intelligent bridge.

Such an intelligent application could impact the work in a few ways:

– Just as developers oftentimes use automated testing to find issues quickly, such an app could save all parties much time as well. There could be then less friction when the domains meet before or during production;

– Some fields, like accessibility and security, could gain some visibility, and issues related to those domains could be addressed quickly, even by novices;

– Management and stakeholders could have a better visibility of all the components and elements that are necessary to build something.

Question 2

Consider the ways in which prototyping has been framed in Unit 2 (such as horizontal and vertical, and high- and low-fidelity prototypes). Using this terminology, describe the prototyping process within your industry or organization, or one with which you are familiar.

Write between 200 and 350 words in which you contextualize the current role of prototyping and explore how it could be applied, and other ways in which it could be applied.


Over the last fifteen years or so, I have been working on projects that implement user interfaces for digital productions—e.g., websites, apps, interactive screens, games, etc. I have encountered two main ways of creating prototypes:

Static low- and high-fidelity horizontal prototypes: Usually, these would come respectively in the shape of wireframes and high resolution mockups. While we designers understand the benefit of not investing much in high-resolution prototypes to test actual functionality, many stakeholders and test users are put off by paper prototypes and wireframes. Sometimes, potential users focus too much on the low fidelity and are unable to see the abstracted featured with which they are presented.

Interactive horizontal prototype: In user interface development, it’s oftentimes necessary to present a functional interface to the stakeholders as the work progresses. In those cases, the back-end part of the work—database interaction, remote computation, etc.—must be mocked so that the interface can be tested. This unfortunately often leads exactly to what has been mentioned in this module’s readings: the prototype code moves into production, as project managers do not want to invest in refactoring.

My experience does not mean that these are the only ways to work in these domains. Instead, this shows how the trend of startups and Facebook’s “Move fast and break things” is not aligned with actual user experience research and properly paced prototyping.

Prototyping and UX workshops should be given to non-designers and non-developers—project managers, stakeholders, etc.—so they could experiment with prototyping and understand how their input translates into work.

Question 3

Consider the relationship between personal fabrication and manufacturing. Compare the advantages and disadvantages of personal fabrication for manufacturing in your profession.

Write between 200 and 350 words in which you consider the potential that personal fabrication has to disrupt your industry.


The field in which I currently work does not need any fabrication, everything is digital since all interfaces are presented on screens. However, the field of media arts, in which I produce installations and devices, has moved forward in great strides since personal fabrication has come about.

Previously, only parts and components that were made for other purposes were available to creators of media art: electronics, tools, etc. This worked great for a while, as it followed on the ideas of Marcel Duchamp and his readymades, as well as the Situationists’ idea of détournement—which in this case could be translated to hacking. However, no real hacking or disruption could come about by simply reusing existing components.

Now, creators have the opportunity to create their own components quickly with 3D printing and laser cutting. This caused a minor revolution in that creators can now produce many different kinds of components and tools to create their work. In some cases, it’s even possible to create custom electronic schematics and parts—with Fritzing for example—and send them directly to manufacturers. This also enabled these creators/hobbyists/hackers to work on projects such as movie and theater props.

There is however a minor downside, which is the same as I had mentioned in the Thoughts on personal fabrication and manufacturing exercise in this module: being able to fabricate all these prototypes require much more knowledge than paper prototyping.

Learning Outcomes

– LO3: Deduce how high-performance applications could be applied.

– LO7: Evaluate prototyping processes in terms of their functions.

– LO9: Assess the impact of rapid prototyping on manufacturing.

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