DSGN 100: Prototyping

Summer 2020

This studio course introduces students to the basic practices of interaction design through a focus on visual, physical, and digital prototyping. We follow a human-centered design process that includes research, concept generation, prototyping, testing, and refinement. Students must work effectively as individuals and in small teams to create visual designs, information systems, physical devices, and other interactive experiences. Assignments approach design on three levels: specific user interactions, contexts of use, and larger systems. Students will become familiar with design methodologies such as sketching, storyboarding, wire framing, user-testing etc. No coding is required. This course serves as a requirement for the cross-department Design Minor.

In the land of design consultancies, designers never have enough time or resources to do their work. If you feel a bit overwhelmed by the pace of the class and the amount of worked assigned, then you are right where you should be. A big part of this class is to gain a visceral feeling for what designers experience everyday. We want you to work fast and to bring an attitude of play and playfulness to the classroom.

Prof. Bryan Rill:

Lectures: M/W 11:00 am-1:50 pm (online via Zoom)

Studios: Monday or Tuesdays +1 other day. Self-organized by student teams (managed in Slack + Google)

Learning Objectives

Students who have successfully completed this course will be able to do the following:

  • give and receive feedback in a constructive way during critiques

  • use visual hierarchy to prioritize information and optimize interactions

  • sketch as a means of visual exploration and ideation

  • give form to design ideas through prototyping

  • realize designs through making with physical and/or digital materials

  • effectively test, assess, and iterate on designs

  • interpret content in order to meet the needs of multiple stakeholders

  • make decisions that build on existing design patterns

  • select appropriate methodologies for engaging in a human-centered design process

  • understand how designers think in order to collaborate on interdisciplinary teams

  • communicate design ideas to a variety of stakeholders

Critique Guidelines

Critiques are an essential part of the design process, and will be a part of nearly every class period. Verbalizing what you see helps you to learn. You are expected to be an active participant in all critiques. You should not expect to get personal feedback on your work every time. We will do our best to distribute feedback evenly across the quarter, and you can meet with us by appointment if you have specific questions. Critiques are not beauty contests. When giving criticism, always describe what you are seeing and experiencing, rather than your opinion as it relates to your personal taste. For example, rather than saying, “I don’t like this,” it is more constructive to say, “I’m not sure what you want me to look at first,” or, “I was drawn to this first, but then I got confused about where to go next,”, or, “this was hard for me to read – I had to squint my eyes.”

Do not take what is said about your work personally, no matter how difficult this seems. These assignments require you to take risks and try new things. Your effort and willingness to approach problems with originality is a greater reflection of your potential as a designer than whether your solution is aesthetically perfect. During a critique there may be conflicting thoughts and opinions expressed about your work. It is up to you to determine the best way to use the feedback you've received.


Bryan Rill is a scholar and industry professional who bridges design education and practice. Originally trained as an anthropologist, Dr. Rill is a Fulbright-Hayes scholar with a PhD from Florida State University. Emphasizing the importance of culture to design, he moved on to teach design psychology at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the top design school in Asia. There he taught graduate-level design courses, developed a design ethnography course, and mentored multimedia design teams from ideation through prototyping. He has supervised cross-functional teams for game, mobile, and web design projects.

Dr. Rill also founded and directed the Co-Creation Initiative, a research program dedicated to understanding innovative ecosystems. From this research he authored “The Art of Co-Creation: A Guidebook for Practitioners,” a resource for individuals and organizations who want to design for and facilitate collective intelligence.

In practice, Dr. Rill leverages a diverse background that spans anthropology, psychology, design thinking, and leadership to drive innovation - which often lies at the boundaries between disciplines. His works include UX research and design, facilitating innovation, coaching, and teaching design.

Outside of work, Bryan enjoys surfing, hiking, composing and performing electronic music. He has traveled the world as an ethnographer, trained as a monk in Japan, and performed internationally under the artist alias "DJ Neptune." He now lives in Carlsbad, and strives to support the San Diego community through socially impactful projects.