Human-Centered Design 201: Prototyping

Learn from designers to make your ideas come to life

Course Details

  • Price: FREE
  • Start Date: NOV 13, 2018
  • Time: 4 hours/week
  • Duration: 5 weeks
  • Partner:

What You’ll Learn:

  • Practice the mindsets and methods of human-centered design to produce tangible results quickly
  • Experiment with methods to prototype products, services, interactions, and environments
  • Gain valuable feedback from the people you’re designing for and incorporating that feedback into new iterations
  • Demonstrate how the cycle of prototyping, feedback, and iteration leads to concept refinement


Prototyping is the stage of the human-centered design process where ideas come to life. Building prototypes is a low-cost and risk-averse way to get your ideas into the hands of the people you’re trying to change. 

This is an intensive, hands-on learning experience that will equip you to prototype products, services, interactions, and environments. You’ll learn methods that designers use to quickly build prototypes, learn best practices for testing those ideas in the field, and collecting real user feedback to iterate efficiently.

We recommend that you take Introduction to Human-Centered Design before enrolling in this course.

Format and Timing:

  • Team-Based Course: We strongly encourage (but do not require) that you form a team of 2-8 people to take the course with. It works best to find friends or coworkers who can meet in person. Need to find team members? You can post to the discussion forums a month before the course starts.
  • Platform: NovoEd (+Acumen and developed the course. We host this course on the NovoEd platform.)
  • Timing: This course will be open for 5 weeks. You can work through the materials at your own pace during the time the course is open. There are no required times for you to log in. There will be suggested deadlines for you to complete each assignment. The final deadline is the final day of the course.

Course Syllabus

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  • 4 reading guides
  • 4 workshop guides to structure your own prototyping process
  • Short instructional videos produced by designers
  • Supplemental resources
Section 1: Make It Real
  • Warm-Up Exercise
  • Activity: Start with an Idea
  • Activity: Prototype a Product
  • Discussion: Feedback from Your Team
  • Activity: Iterate
  • Discussion: Debrief
Section 2: Build to Think
  • Activity: Plan Your Service Prototype
  • Activity: Create a Journey Map
  • Activity: Role Play
  • Discussion: Feedback from Your Friend
  • Activity: Iterate and Refine Your Plan
  • Discussion: Debrief
Section 3: Plan for Field Tests
  • Activity: Prototype a Space
  • Activity: Plan Your Field Tests
  • Activity: Sketch It
  • Activity: Mock It Up
  • Discussion: Feedback from Your Team
  • Activity: Iterate and Refine Your Plan
  • Discussion: Debrief
Section 4: In the Field
  • Activity: Prototype in Context
  • Activity: Feedback from Real Users
  • Activity: Co-Creation
  • Activity: Iteration on the Fly
  • Discussion: Debrief
  • Reflections
  • Discussion: Moving Forward

Supported By is the nonprofit arm of the world-renowned design firm, IDEO.  They design products, services, and experiences to improve the lives of people in poor and vulnerable communities. They are experts in human-centered design, a creative approach to problem solving.

What People Are Saying

Kevin Schneider, Professor of International Business

"This class has been extremely relevant for prototyping multiple elements of the cashew cookstove we are developing in small Brazilian villages. We are using all of the frameworks to develop our prototype."

Kevin Schneider, Professor of International Business