Micro Challenge #27 – Planning your prototype

5 June 2020 - 4 minute read

Welcome to the twenty-seventh of Altitude Foundation’s #MicroChallenges2020

Today’s challenge will help you turn your idea into a prototype!

What’s a Micro Challenge?

These challenges are short activities to help you develop, revise or refresh your coding skills, posted every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Over the next few weeks, we are running a series of guest challenges, put together by our friend at Newcastle University Open Lab, Megan Venn-Wycherly. You can learn more about her work here and OpenLab here

These challenges work as stand-alone challenges and also as a mini-course which builds together. The first in the series can be found here.

Micro Challenge #27

Today’s challenge is to prepare to create a prototype of a product or idea you want to create. If you need inspiration, try using the ideation squares challenge to explore your thoughts.

Once you have come up with an idea, you can start prototyping. Prototyping is where developers, designers or researchers create a really early version of a project to explore how a possible final product might work, and how users will interact with or use it.

Prototyping is also sometimes called the Wizard of Oz methodinspired by this iconic scene.

In HCI, Wizard of Oz prototyping is used to show what appears to be a finished project (most of the time!), but is really just “a man behind the curtain”. It helps us explore how people might interact with our prototype projects. You can make videos, pictures, models etc… which represent what your system might look like if it were finished, and how users are intended to interact with it.

You can do this in a range of different ways.

The Challenge:

Today’s challenge is to prepare for your prototype. 

Consider the following questions:

  • How will your user interact with the product? Will it be voice activated, follow the user’s gaze, or require touch? (This might depend on your user!)
  • In what order do they need to access your product’s functions? For example, if you were designing a note taking device, the first thing it might need to ask is whether you want to start a new session or continue existing notes.
  • What will your product look like? You might be designing an app for a phone, but you could also be looking at wearable tech, VR glasses, a robot…Your imagination is the only limit!

Having done this, can you outline a plan or algorithm for your prototype? You could create a flowchart, a mind map,or a comic strip.

Review it:

Once you have answered the above questions, check whether:

  • You have a clear user and can explain how the user determines the interactions between human and computer
  • You have an idea of what order you want your screens/images/functions to appear.

Now you can start designing!


  • Can you add details to your plan? What colours might you want to use to make your product standout?
  • Share your ideas with Megan @Mwycher on Twitter for feedback and tips on how to take your challenge further. 

Share it

We would love to see what you have created! Please send any pictures, videos, or files of your activities to us – either via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram  using #MicroChallenges2020 or to challenges@altitudefoundation.org. If you are emailing them to us, please let us know if you are happy for us to share your stuff on our social media platforms (with credit, of course). 

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