The value of prototyping: An investigation of the relationship between the costs of prototyping, perceived value, and design outcome

Jacob Nelson, Jessica Menold

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Prototyping is an important part of the design process and has repeatedly been identified in prior work as an important tool for designers to test assumptions, communicate ideas, and develop design knowledge. Researchers, however, currently have a limited understanding of how the resources invested in a prototype influence designers' decision-making and their perceptions of a prototype's value. Prior work has shown that significant investment of time or money in a prototype can lead to undesirable effects such as design fixation, but the full impact of these factors on designers' perceived value of the prototypes remains unclear. Likewise, it is unclear how prototype usage impacts the evolution of designer knowledge. To explore these relationships, a study was performed in a 16 week-long design project involving 32 teams of mechanical engineering students. Results suggest that effective prototyping uncovered new design knowledge and limited uncertainty early in the design process, allowing teams to spend more time testing and iterating later in the design process. High-performing teams also reported final prototypes as less valuable for gathering new knowledge than their peers. Importantly, the study did not find any significant relationships between the cost of a prototype in terms of money and time, and the perceived value of that prototype. Nor were any significant relationships found between costs and final design outcomes. This work underscores the need for better methods to evaluate the value of prototyping efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication32nd International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology (DTM)
PublisherAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
ISBN (Electronic)9780791883976
StatePublished - 2020
EventASME 2020 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC-CIE 2020 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Aug 17 2020Aug 19 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ASME Design Engineering Technical Conference
Volume8

Conference

ConferenceASME 2020 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference, IDETC-CIE 2020
CityVirtual, Online
Period8/17/208/19/20

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Modeling and Simulation

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