Novice designers' use of prototypes in engineering design

Des Stud. 2017 Jul;51:25-65. doi: 10.1016/j.destud.2017.04.002. Epub 2017 May 25.


Prototypes are essential tools in product design processes, but are often underutilized by novice designers. To help novice designers use prototypes more effectively, we must first determine how they currently use prototypes. In this paper, we describe how novice designers conceptualized prototypes and reported using them throughout a design project, and compare reported prototyping use to prototyping best practices. We found that some of the reported prototyping practices by novice designers, such as using inexpensive prototypes early and using prototypes to define user requirements, occurred infrequently and lacked intentionality. Participants' initial descriptions of prototypes were less sophisticated than how they later described using them and only upon prompted reflection did participants recognize more specific benefits of using prototypes.

Keywords: Design Education; Novice Designers; Product Design; Prototypes; User Centered Design.