Communicating UX Through Video: 1. Prototyping

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Pop some popcorn, recline in your favorite recliner and rest your laptop. In five articles I will share with you some of the more interesting user experience videos on the web. They represent the importance of video as a tool for any designer working with new behaviors, emerging technologies and complex systems that unfold over time. From low-res, techfree prototypes to science-fiction-like future scenarios, this collection of videos will survey the various ways that designers are using this linear medium to explore possible functions, experiences, contexts and values afforded by new technology driven products and services. And we begin with: prototyping.

Video Prototypes

Video prototypes are used for the same reasons any prototypes are – testing, evaluating, iterating, communicating, etc. But video is an especially useful tool for designers who have to quickly represent design concepts that often involve complex relationships or require a high level of technology. It’s fast, cheap, easy to share and allows lots of space for faking it.

The Economizer

The Economizer is a three part video scenario created by Cooper, a design consulting firm in the US. This series is a great example of low-fi prototyping with video. In fact, it’s not even video, it’s still frames with a voice over. You have to love the hand drawn interfaces.


At the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design, one of the fist workshops the students take is on the subject of video prototyping. Over the course of a week, students had to represent a concept as a low fidelity, low resolution prototype and then represent the same concept as a high fidelity, high resolution prototype in an empathetic scenario. Each student was given the concept for a service called KeyLess which would replace lost keys anywhere in the city in under 30 minutes. You can watch all the videos here.


Sketch-a-move is the concepts for a toy car by Anab Jain and Louise Klinker. While the concept for the car is technically feasible, this video prototype allowed the designers to answer the most important question – is it fun? – without having to worry about building a functional prototype. This prototype is a great example of how video opens up new possibilities for smoke-and-mirrors techniques. In this case, one can presume, someone behind the camera is controlling the cars with a remote control.

The RaMo System

The RaMo System is a network of portable devices for elderly homes. This video prototype, also made at CIID, explores the interface of these devices, how they work together, and how they work in the context of elderly homes. It even goes as far to explore how it can be a tool to involve family in the everyday lives of elderly people in the home. For a course about GUI, it was a great decision to use video and capture everything happening around the devices.

Next time: concepting

Adam Little

Adam Little is an interaction designer who enjoys human centered design in collaborative, multicultural and cross disciplinary teams. He is Pilot Year student at the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design where they apply technology to people’s everyday lives by prototyping new ideas for products, services and software.

12 comments on this article

  1. Pingback: Communicating UX Through Video: 1. Prototyping | Laptops Gallery

  2. Adam, I think people are familiar w/ Vid prototypes at least they’ve seen them (whether they know it or not). Great examples, but I think what people need to know is not what is out there, but how easy it can be to do. What are the tools people need? how do you create one? Etc.?

    do you have anything on that? Much appreciated!

    – dave

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  4. Actually, Sketch-a-move is even simpler than that — the cars are moved using magnets underneath the table.

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  7. Adam, thanks for this. I really like the low-fidelity drawings on the Cooper vids. So often clients struggle with wireframes. This could be a great alternative. Seems they should be easy enough to put together using iMovie or Camtasia. I’d also appreciate a list of recommended production tools. How did they persuade their clients to use this format instead of traditional UX/IA deliverables?

  8. Adam Little on

    Here’s a link with more info about the Cooper videos –

    This (and the rest of the videos above) can all be done with iMovie and a digital camcorder. If you want to get fancy, you can use a tripod ;) Since the RaMo video uses a split screen at one point, my guess is they used Adobe Premier or Final Cut Express.

    When making a video prototype, it’s important not to get caught up in “film making”. It has been my experience that limiting yourself to software such as iMovie is a good constraint that will make you focus on the task at hand… prototyping.

  9. Seems like a great way to communicate a concept!

    I just bumped into to this lovely video tour of a website called Tipspot. Basically a low fidelity representation of the interface and the story, in which all elements are cut out of cardboard. Might be very time consuming, but it does look great!

  10. Pingback: Communicating UX Through Video: 1. Prototyping | Adobe Tutorials

  11. Adam, This information is very help to me in my final product! thank you very much for sharing a such unique information about this!I like this site, as it was being useful to me. I will visit this site in future too.

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