Digital Arts and New Media: MFA: Collaboration, Innovation, Social Impact

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04.05.2010 :: Talk by Steven Dow: How Prototyping Practices Affect Design Results

Monday, April 5, 2010 - 6:00pm
Engineering 2, Room 280

Talk Hosted by Associate Professor Michael Mateas, Computer Science


Design shapes the world we inhabit, both digital and physical. Yet surprisingly often, the design process fails to uncover the real needs and desires of people. How can designers and developers more effectively prototype? My research examines the creative process through lab experimentation. I will describe research on iteration and comparison, two key principles for discovering contextual design variables and their interrelationships. We found that, even under tight time constraints when the common intuition is to stop iterating and start refining, iterative prototyping helps designers learn. Our results also indicate that creating and receiving feedback on multiple prototypes in parallel—as opposed to serially—leads to more divergent ideation, more explicit comparison, less investment in a single concept, and better overall design performance.


Steven Dow is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the HCI Group at Stanford University where he researches human-computer interaction, creative problem-solving, prototyping practices, and computing for education and entertainment. He is a co-recipient of a Hasso Plattner Design Thinking Research Grant 2009-10. He received an MS and PhD in Human-Centered Computing from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a BS in Industrial Engineering from University of Iowa.