Methods for early prototypes

Early prototypes may be interaction flow sketches on paper, Flash prototypes on a computer, or early version of the actual system with the core functionality. Since the early prototypes often include the core functions only, participants cannot freely explore the system but they are typically given tasks to evaluate.

AXE (Anticipated eXperience Evaluation)

AXE is a qualitative method that gives an initial perspective on the user experience for a product or a service. It is a method that involves singular users in an interview setting. The method builds on using visual stimuli to make evaluation participants imagine a use situation and to reveal
their attitudes, use practices and valuations. AXE is both an evaluative method and a method for collecting suggestions for improvement. The results connect perceived product attributes with different dimensions of user experience.


Emocards provide a non-verbal method for users to self-report their emotions. Flash cards or single sheet of a paper.


Emotional responses elicited by consumer products are difficult to verbalize because their nature is subtle (low intensity) and often miemotional response at the same time). As a result, these emotions are difficult to measure with verbal questionnaires. Instead of relying on the use of words, respondents can report their emotions with the use of cartoon drawings of facial expressions. The Emofaces can be used in internet surveys, formal interviews, and in qualitative interviews.

Exploration test

Etnographic test for evaluating user's perception of a design

Group-based expert walkthrough

It is a scenario based usability inspection method, aiming to identify usability-problems, possible design improvements and successful/good design solutions in a given user interface. The evaluations are conducted as group usability inspections and require no previous training of the evaluators. Thus the method supports evaluators not accustomed to usability inspections. The group-based expert walkthrough is particularly suited for early evaluations of applications specific to a particular work domain. The method is grounded on the assumption that usability-problems and possible design improvements identified by work-domain experts utilized as evaluators had far higher impact on the subsequent development processes than these identified by usability-experts. Combined with other methods, such as probing material it goes beyond the usability aspect and collects UX issues.

I.D. Tool

(From the ENGAGE Web site description:) I.D. Tool identifies the physical design attributes that a product has in order to evoke the desired experience by the target customers. This is uncovered by mapping the user's mental reactions that creates the immediate affective impressions of the product as well as the long term opinions towards it.


The investigator herself uses the system in real contexts and evaluates it. So, the investigator is the only “participant” in the field study.

MAX – Method of Assessment of eXperience

The MAX is a post-use method for evaluating the general experience through cards with an avatar and a board. MAX can be applied after the use of mockups, prototypes, interactive systems, or any artifact that user can interact with. It has four categories, which are represented on the board by questions that guide the user at the evaluation: (a) Emotion: What did you feel when using it?, (b) Ease of Use:Was it easy to use?; (c) Usefulness: Was it useful? and (e) Intention to Use: Would you wish to use it?

Mental mapping

Participants see or try out a design and then select a famous person or film that best describes the design. E.g. Sylvester Stallone or Fatal Attraction. Alternatively, participants may be asked to imagine the product as a person and make up some stories of its life.


Lab study: Combination of qualitative and quantitative measures for tasks.

Paired comparison

Very easy to use technique to rank order stimuli (products) with respect to some quality (e.g. enjoyment); also easy to do for children; goes back to early (1920's) test and scale development techniques; paired comparison data can be transformed in ordering stimuli.

Perspective-Based Inspection

A team of people with different perspectives evaluates a product.
Perspectives can include: Aesthetics, fun, comfort & other user experience.

Physiological arousal via electrodermal activity

The method utilises physiological arousal as an indicator for involvement and emotional state (arousal not valence). It is meant to also capture unconscious processes. Unobtrusive, not distracting, continuous measure, in situ

Playability heuristics

Playability heuristics evaluate the playability aspect within games. Apart from usability problems, the heuristics can reveal the experiential aspects of game play.

Product Personality Assignment

Participants are given a selection of product designs and a questionnaire of different personalities that they assign to designs (list of Briggs-Myers, e.g. "sensible", "friendly"). They are also asked about the reasons for the selections.

Product Semantic Analysis (PSA)

A semantic scale that is built for each evaluation case separately via user interviews and by using product semantics as the theoretical basis.

Property checklists

A structured way to do expert evaluation: the expert goes through a checklist of design goals for different product properties (form, colour, materials, graphics, sounds, functionality, interaction design).

Repertory Grid Technique (RGT)

RGT is a technique for eliciting and evaluating people's subjective experiences of interacting with technology, through the individual way they construe the meanings of members of the set of artifacts under investigations. It thus attempts to capture how users experience things, what the experience means for them, and covers both emotionally- based constructs (warm-cold) and more “rational” ones (professional-popular). Kelly suggested the Repertory Grid Technique (RGT) as a methodological extension of his Personal Construct Theory (Kelly, 1955). Kelly argued that we make sense of our world through our own ‘construing' of it. That is, we tend to model what we find in the world according to a number of personal constructs, which are bipolar in nature. According to Kelly, a ‘construct' is a single dimension of meaning for a person allowing two phenomena to be seen as similar and thereby as different from a third (Bannister & Fransella, 1985).

Resonance testing

Resonance testing is a method to validate product concepts againts a set of experiential goals. It is primarily intended for use with physical products

Semi-structured experience interview

Face to face or online interview. Ask people what they think, feel, experience

UX Expert evaluation

UX experts use their expertise of users and UX theories to evaluate UX of a system.

Workshops + probe interviews

After conducting exploratory user research with design probes, invite the same participants to first 'validate' your analysis and then allow them to experience and give feedback on early prototypes in a group session