Free and Low Cost Tools and Techniques for Lo-Fi User Experience Design (UXD)

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

An examination of tools and techniques integral to the User Experience Design (UXD) Process used in the planning phase of a Next Generation Learning System prototype. Free or low cost tools were used throughout the UXD process, which included creating data-driven personas, low-fidelity (lo-fi) paper prototypes and wireframes. 


Mark Lewis is an Instructional Designer for SUNY Empire State College. He is also a Core Faculty Member in the Master In Learning and Emerging Technologies (MALET) program. He has designed and taught graduate studies in Instructional Design for Online Learning Environments; and Games, Simulations and Learning. He has also designed and taught undergraduate courses in Game Design and Development, Digital Photography, Interactive Multimedia Design, Web Site Design, Adobe Flash Animation, Graphic Design & Desktop Publishing, and Technical Theatre Production. Recent instructional design work has included the incorporation of UX design practices within the creation of collaborative next generation online learning environments and the creation of a faculty oriented instructional design portal. His prior technology and design related work experience includes graphic design, website design and development, technology training, and management of enterprise help desk support. He also worked for many years in technical theatre lighting and set design in the New York metropolitan area and frequently incorporated photographs and digital images in his designs. He was a technical editor for four editions (CS3 to CS6) of Photoshop CS6: Essential Skills published by Focal Press. He is interested in the application of UX design processes for developing learning environments and for game design, games and meaningful play in education, game culture, and games for social change. He has presented at many regional and national conferences on instructional technology, game design for education, game culture and gender issues, and accessibility issues for game design. He is a member of the International Game Developers Association. He holds an M.S. in Instructional Design and Technology from Walden University, an M.A. in Media Studies from the New School, and a B.S. in Visual Arts from SUNY New Paltz where he worked in both painting and photography.

Extended Abstract

This presentation examines the tools and techniques that were integral to the User Experience Design (UXD) Process used in the planning phase of a Next Generation Learning System (NGLS) prototype. The resulting UXD project document directly informed the development of the State University of New York, Innovative Instructional Technology Grant Round 5 Programmatic Learning Environment Prototype.

The UXD process included (distant) user observation sessions with online students; in-person collaborative work sessions with faculty, instructional designers and information technology staff; and in-person paper prototype observations of students.  

Free and low cost tools were used throughout the UXD process. This presentation covers the specific software used during the process as well as additional low-cost alternatives. Paper prototyping tools and specific techniques and tips for effective user testing are also discussed.

Project planning, developing observation scenarios, creating experience maps, identifying pain points and design goals, developing data-driven personas, low-fidelity (lo-fi ) paper prototypes and creating lo-fi wireframe layouts will be covered. The benefits of lo-fi design for rapid development and the challenges of working with students and design team members located across New York State will be discussed. The iterative nature of the UXD process in evaluating the resulting NGLS prototype will be examined.