Experience Prototyping (EP) is a technique employed by several design disciplines in order to test an experience or service in physical space and over time. Such prototyping technique helps to refine the concept and the overall design of the experience, as well as its flow in space and time, before any investment is made in further implementation details.

Design teams make use of Experience Prototyping to advance the design and understanding of their design concepts. It can be used in three critical design activities: understanding existing experience, exploring ideas, and communicating design concepts.

Experience Prototyping is not constrained to pen and paper or the computer screen, but is a complex activity involving technologies, techniques and props that enables observation, bodystorming, role-playing, video analysis, and other experience prototyping techniques (Koskinen et al. 2009)

For this technique you will need some preparation. The results of the EP will be as good as the preparation time and efforts that the team has been able to spare into it.

  • Step 0: THINK: Before planning the EP, invite the team to reflect on the scope of the EP and what do they need to get out of it. Remember that EP can be used in three critical design activities: understanding existing experience, exploring ideas, and communicating design concepts.
  • Step 1: Use MODELS: Make use of the experience or service design existing models to inform the sequence of events of the EP. For example, make us of the service blueprint if available, or user touch points journey, the persona or scenarios made to describe aspects of the service. Use them to sketch the EP script sequence.
  • Step 2: DECIDE
    • 2.1 Decide who is your target audience, who do you want to communicate with? Is it a general user or public, your design team, your client? How interactive doyou want your experience to be? Do you want to stage an experience and have a public of spectators and commentators or do you want to engage potential users in it, people who never tried the experience before, or do you want to engage your client in it ? For what purpose?
    • 2.2 What do you want to test: a new role in the service, a different location, the flow of the experience and its service moments? Other?
    • 3.1Prepare a step outline of the sequence of events and timing (flow) that you want the EP to have; Plan the characters involved, the locations, the most important moments to test etc.
    • 3.2 write the EP script very much like a film script, including locations, propos and dialogue if needed.
    • 3.3 Gather props, prepare location, recruit actors.
    • 3.4 Reharse
  • Step 4: ENACT
    • 4.1 Give roles to the team members and users that are participating in the EP. Give them time to read their script if they need to. One or two team members should document the EP with video and observation notes.
    • 4.2 Gather feedback right after the EP has ended. Feedback comes in two types: on one hand it regards how to improve the service or scenario that you presented, on the other hand it regards on how to improve the EP, so you can get better data from it.
    • 5.1 Refine your service, or scenario based on the observations and feedback received
    • 5.2 Refine the EP based on the observations and feedback received
  • STEP 6 REPEAT: Repeat form STEP 2



Buchenau, M. and Suri, J F. (2000). Experience Prototyping. Proceedings of the conference on Designing Interactive Systems processes, practices, methods, and techniques, DIS '00.

Strömberg, Hanna, Valtteri Pirttilä, and Veikko Ikonen. 2004. Interactive scenarios—building ubiquitous computing concepts in the spirit of participatory design. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing 8 (3):200-207.

Koskinen, I., Mikkonen, J., Eckoldt, K., Hänninen, R., Jiang, J., Schultz, B., … & Suri, J. F. (2009). Protosketching: Sketching in Experience Prototyping.

Keane K., Nisi, V., ”Experience prototyping: Gathering Rich Understanding To guide Design”, (2014) in Emerging Research and Trends in Interactivity and the Human-Computer Interface, (pages 224-237) edited by Blashki, K., Isaias, P.,. A volume in the Advances in Human and Social Aspects of Technology (AHSAT) Book Series, IGI Global