WNM700 Module 05

Monday, January 7th, 2019 | Module


You’ve learned about each step of the human centered design process: Research, Ideation, Prototype, and Testing. Not so fast! There is what could be considered a “final” step: implementation. 

Going live with a design and getting it in the hands of real users is a multi-step process, and many factors need to be considered. 

Live prototypes and pilot programs

“Though you’ve been getting feedback from the people you’re designing for all along, a Live Prototype is one of the most powerful ways to test your solution in the marketplace. Until now, your prototypes have been rough, and they’ve done only enough to convey the idea you wanted to test. A Live Prototype, however, gives you a chance to stress test your solution in real-world conditions. It can run from a few days to a few weeks, and is a chance to learn how your solution works in practice. Live Prototypes are all about understanding the feasibility and viability of your idea.

Pilots can last months and will fully expose your solution to market forces. At this point you’re not testing an idea—Should my product be green? Do I need a different logo?— you’re testing an entire system. Ideally you’ll have run a few Live Prototypes before going to Pilot so that some of the kinks are worked out. During a Pilot you’ll fully execute on your idea finding out if it truly works the way you envisioned by running it with all the staff, space, and resources necessary.”

-Field Guide to HCD, IDEO

A live prototype takes your “low-fidelity” tests and brings “high-fidelity” functional mock-ups to the user. The experience should now look and feel the way it will look and feel in full implementation. The focus should be to drive out the need for abstraction in the mind of the users, and evaluate the design in as real world conditions as possible. While certain elements can still be hand-waived away, the intent is to minimize the amount of fictionalized mental “lifting” a user needs to do. The design should look the way it will look. If a service needs to be prototyped, the service should function as it would function. This takes significantly more time (and usually money) than testing with low-fidelity or lower-risk prototypes. Designers should not race to high-fidelity. In fact, they should fight the urge to make the design “pretty” until the last moment, squeezing every drop of insight they can out of the low fidelity stages before moving on to live prototyping.

A pilot is a test of the whole system. This means that all technology, people, staff, space, and resources should be in place for this type of test. This clearly takes a lot of investment, and a lot of buy-in. What is the designer’s role in creating a pilot program? 


Often times the designer is asked to author a roadmap for pilot documents, laying out all the needs and resources to make the design a reality. From content to monetization, the designer needs to think fully about the real needs to make the system a reality.


Another very common task for designers is to create a presentation explaining the vision of the design. This can take the form of overview videos, talks, media, or other communication materials. The designer should facilitate a “pitch” to get everyone on board who might be needed to make the design successful, from financing to potential customers.

Don’t Stop Iterating

Just because a design has “launched”, doesn’t mean the designer’s job is done. Designers must monitor the success of the design and determine evaluation metrics. How will they measure the success of the design system? A designer will need to survey people before and after they use the design to get a true sense of the impact. Adjustments, iteration, and quantification of results are needed.

Choose an object in your kitchen. Think through the needs to launch that design. It can be as simple as a spoon. What are all the steps, people, costs and needs to produce that object? Be detailed, and include manufacturing or raw materials, transportation, packaging, etc… What is the roadmap of that object from sketch and idea to final product sitting in your kitchen? How much testing, how much time, and how much money has been invested into that product? How could you pitch that object if you needed to convince others it should be created? And how would you measure the success of the design of that object?


Design Project One

Research, Ideate, Prototype, Test, Repeat! Time to put all you’ve learned to the test.

Assignment: Design Project One


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