Methodological support has the potential to improve the design performance of novice designers. This study investigated the effects that structured prototyping support has on novice designers’ prototyping plans. We compared the prototyping plans made by 33 design teams using minimum guidance with plans made using a prototyping support tool, the Prototyping Planner. Specifically, the questions answered in the plans, the testing purpose, and the plan structure were compared.

Unsupported plans varied in length and scope. Some teams focused on a few selected tests while others used their plans to brainstorm multiple different types of tests without planning how to execute them.

81% of novice designers agreed that their supported prototyping plans were better than their unsupported plans. The Prototyping Planner ensured that all teams selected a clear and narrow purpose for their prototype and planned how to execute it. Plan length increased 12% overall and more for the teams that had made the shortest initial plans.

This research shows that different types of prototyping plans exist. The Prototyping Planner supports novice designers well in planning a specific prototyping activity, but to support planning of the prototyping process it must be extended or used in combination with other support.

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