Matthew Garvin

UX Research, Design, Strategy

Prototyping in XD

What isn’t a prototype? Even a finished product is a prototype of the next iteration or version.

The key takeaway from the Le Bricolage section was how the designers cobbled things together to make a brilliant prototype of an innovative technology that doesn’t actually exist. At the end he also noted that in his view, it’s a classic prototype and that the whole process they undertook should be studied and replicated. But reading about the Virtual Whiteboard I began to think about the looming future of the virtual reality fully immersive meeting and how might that impact the design process? I bet for many, there would still be something missing in collaborative efforts. I also wonder if these people might benefit from haptic feedback to replicate that feeling you get when you’re in the presence of other people.

One thing I wanted to make sure I correct in the Buxton chapter, is when he mentions how hunting and gathering research material borders on mania with good designers. That’s all well and good, but these days we say foraging. Hunting and gathering invokes an image of the “noble savage” whose way of life is reduced to a simple binary.

Speaking of prototyping tools, there’s a really lo-fi one called Marvel app, I have it on my phone. You can take photos of your hand drawn sketches and insert hotspots on the buttons you drew to link your frames together for a fully clickable paper prototype. As far as the Warfel chapter, Fireworks has been reincarnated into XD. Axure was still really popular up until a few years ago, but I don’t hear much about it lately. I heard that designers used to use PowerPoint for prototyping, I think with some of the other tools like XD, Sketch, etc., PP has been relegated back to presentations, but I thought it was really neat when I saw Kentaro earlier today in 501 using PP to interact with and cluster affinity notes.

It seems to me that one of the first things many a young UX designer thinks about when they survey the field of technology is how they can improve upon to various tools we use. And then of course many of them seek to profit off of these tools by selling them to the other UXers in the field. Personally, I’m sticking with XD for as far as it will take me, because one of the things that XD offers that none of the competitors can match is the resources and experience of Adobe, with its array of industry standard design tools which have a deeply integrated compatibility across the entire Creative Cloud. I am going to miss my student discount when it’s gone but I shouldn’t be too hard up to afford a personal CC account. Even so, XD is currently still free which is a big bonus over Sketch. I think one of the biggest assets for Sketch is still the incredible plugins it offers through its platform.

However, I’m a PC, and Sketch is Mac only. Although there is a free compatible version on Windows called Lunacy. Interestingly, I do have Lunacy, Figma, and I picked up the free Invision student license, so that’s on my laptop as well. There’s also Marvel app as mentioned previously, which has a really cool mobile app that you can photograph your hand drawn frames and overlay hotspots to create a fully functioning lo-fi prototype for people to test on a real screen! Really neat stuff there.

Unsurprised by the findings in Dow as it’s easy to see how people may look at us playing our little games and brainstorming through the iterative process, they may think it looks easy, or that it’s silly. It’s actually pretty difficult to come up with a bunch of ideas, and people who aren’t experienced in understanding how important a variety is will quickly find that they just settle on one idea because it’s easier.  This is similar to the difference between a trained researcher and a lay person. Lay people tend to assume that the first thing they think of is sufficient and seek ways to prove it. But in research, a person establishes a hypothesis and then goes out of their way to disprove it and refine it until they can’t disprove it anymore. Only after all of that, in addition to peers finding they can’t disprove it either, does it then become theory. 

In a nutshell, this is the method and philosophy of design thinking.


Chapters 6 – 11 in Warfel, T. Z. (2009). Prototyping: A Practitioner’s Guide. Brooklyn, NY: Rosenfeld Media.

Chameleon: From Wizardry to Smoke and Mirrors, Bill Buxton

The Efficacy of Prototyping Under Time Constraints. Steven P. Dow, Kate Heddleston, Scott R. Klemmer. Creativity & Cognition, 2009  

GUI Prototyping Tools:

“Chapter 5: Picking the Right Tool” in Warfel, T. Z. (2009). Prototyping: A Practitioner’s Guide. Brooklyn, NY: Rosenfeld Media. 

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