Final Project (Protoype, Pitch, and Portfolio)

Design is about creating experiences for people. When addressing complex socio-technical problems, designers pay special attention to account for diverse stakeholders and to envision how changes to the physical environment, social context, information, and technology can shape behavior. The goal for this final team-based assignment is to prototype changes to an existing mobility system and to effectively communicate the idea so that you can build support.

This final assignment will have three parts: 1) create a prototype and gather concrete evidence that informs key open questions, 2) create a video and poster to pitch your concept during the Final showcase on March 17, and 3) Create an online portfolio or a crowdfunding campaign to create an online presence for your concept.


What to do

1) Reflect on your feedback and next steps. First, you should meet as a team to read and reflect on your online feedback which should have happened as part of A6. Your team is allowed to keep going the same direction or pivot to another idea. You may also merge ideas into a single vision for how to improve mobility. Each team should try to check in with Prof. Dow during week 7-8 to discuss their problem and solution direction to make sure you're on good footing before moving forward.

2) Create and test a prototype. Building on your team reflection, create a prototype that will help your team gather data about the main critiques (biggest open questions) in your concept. Start by writing down one key question that you want to answer with your prototype. Then create a mockup, model, or an experience prototype that will help your team answer the key open question. This will be different for every team. Make the prototype as "real" as you can in order to get authentic feedback. Examples include:

  • User interface mockups (e.g., Figma click-through demo).
  • Product design model (e.g., 3D model and physical prototype).
  • Service enactments (e.g., a role play experience to "simulate" a new experience)
  • Tactical urbanism activity (e.g., bring materials to temporarily transform a location in the city)
  • Other options that allow you to simulate the experience for potential users.

Your goal here is to make a prototype that concretely illustrates how it could work. Ideally, this should be something people can actually try, not just provide an opinion. While this might not be possible in all cases, your team will learn more if people can experience some aspect of the overall solution.

For example, let's suppose your has a concept for the interior of a self-driving car. You should certainly create renderings of your vision and get people to react. But even better, you could transform an existing car interior and have people take a ride in your simulated AV. This gets closer to testing the experience than just showing a visual representation of the experience.

To test your prototype, you will first need to write down a list of activities/tasks you want someone to perform. Recruit at least 3 people (ideally these are diverse potential users of your system) to try your prototype and make sure to document their interactions and opinions. You may use a combination of observations, interviews, and surveys to collect evidence to help you answer your core question. Timeline: First draft of prototypes due on Feb 28th; testing/feedback due by March 6; final prototypes due on March 17 (final session).

3) Outline an implementation plan. Finally, take time as a team to reflect on the core critiques / open questions and be prepared to pivot your concept to help address these issues. Think about what it would take to actually implement the change you want to see. Begin by estimating start-up costs (and if applicable, projected income) for the next six months. Include expenses for peoples' time, as well as for resources such as materials, computing, advertising, etc. Create a budget and an implementation plan that would explain how you would take this proposed solution to the next level (e.g., to pilot the project, to produce an MVP, to build a fully-functional demo, etc.). The implementation plan should also explicitly say who you would need to target for funding (e.g., startup funders, civic leaders, directly from community members, etc.). Timeline: draft of budget and implementation plan due on March 5; final budget and plan should be included in the poster due March 17.

3) Create a poster, video, and portfolio to showcase your concept. Now it's time to refine your team's concept and produce a compelling pitch that will help you get real-world traction for your proposal. Your team will create three polished artifacts. A poster and a video will be presented on March 17th during the final showcase. The online portfolio will be used to advocate for the change you want to see. First to guide the visual direction for these materials, think about the vibe/mood that you want to create. Create moodboards and a style guide that specifies colors, fonts, and visual elements to be adopted by the poster, video and portfolio.

  • Poster. Your team's poster should include key materials produced throughout the quarter. This should include motivation about the problem context, stakeholders, constraints, and available resources. Include stats and images to really shed light on the problem. Update and embed your revised "how might we" statement and stakeholder value exchange diagram. Include renderings of your final prototype and illustrate the new experience you envision for people. Include an estimated budget and implementation plan for taking the project to the next level. Present data about you collected about your prototype (interview quotes, observations, enactment details) to outline the key open questions / issues. Posters should be A4 size in full color and adopt a design language that best represents the team's identity/concept. Make sure that all parts of the poster are readable without having to zoom in. Timeline: poster sketch due March 5; first draft March 10; final printed draft by March 17th.
  • Video. Produce a digital video no longer than 2 minutes. This video can use a combination of live action video and narrated photos (i.e., the Ken Burn's effect). You can use any video edit software. Before the team shoots any video, write a script and produce a storyboard for the video. The storyboard for the video should illustrate the action, dialogue, and narration that will occur throughout the video. The video should describe the problem and proposed solution, and include a short user scenario that shows how the service will be used. The video should also introduce the team, say what you are seeking, and how the project can move forward if you get support. Timeline: first draft of script and storyboard due on Feb 28; videos due March 16 (one day before final session so we can test/load on one laptop).
  • Portfolio. Each team should create a website as a home base for advocating your proposed solution. This can take the form of a crowdfunding campaign or a simple website that summarizes the project and gives people the opportunity to show support. The online portfolio should include many of the same details as the poster, but also a specific "call to action". For crowdfunding, this would mean asking people to donate. For a website, this might mean joining a mailing list to support your concept. For teams that create a crowdfunding campaign, you do not need to launch and seek funding, just set it up with different funding amounts and rewards. Your portfolio should also embed your team's final video. Timeline: first draft of portfolio due on March 5; final draft due on March 17 (also include a link to your portfolio on your poster).

See these examples of good student projects that include posters, videos, and portfolios:


All deliverables will be graded at the end of the quarter after the Final Showcase on March 17th. The dates below reflect suggested interim deadlines for getting in-class feedback.

  1. Prototypes: first draft due on Feb 25th; testing/feedback due by Mar 3rd; final prototypes due on Mar 17.
  2. Budget and implementation plan: draft due on Mar 10; final due on Mar 17 (as part of poster and portfolio).
  3. Poster: sketch due Mar 5; draft due Mar 10; final printed draft on Mar 17
  4. Video: draft of script due on Mar 5, video storyboard due Mar 7, final video due March 16 (one day before final session so we can test/load on one laptop).
  5. Portfolio: first draft due on Mar 5; final draft due on March 10

Your team will turn in these five deliverables by including a link to your team's Google folder with clearly marked sub-folders dedicated to each. All these materials must be in your team folder by March 17th, except for the video which should be in your team's folder by noon on March 16 (for logistic reasons). Your team folder can also include a sub folder with other materials or early drafts so that we can see evidence of your process.

Final Showcase: The Final Showcase will now be virtual via Zoom on March 17th from 11-2pm. We will create six Zoom calls that will happen in parallel from 12-1pm on March 17th. Please plan on virtually attending during that hour. Each of the six Zoom calls will be setup for three teams, one external reviewer and one TA/IA. This will give us about 15 people in each call. The TA/IA will facilitate the session, keep track of time, and broadcast their screen so that everyone in the Zoom can see the video, website, and poster. These artifacts will also be available directly through each team’s Google folder. Each of the three teams in each call will have ~20 minutes. This is the breakdown:

  • 2 min: Team shows video
  • 3-4 min: Team shows their website and poster. They talk about their concept, insights from prototyping, and next steps for their idea.
  • 10-12 minutes for discussion between the team, external reviewers, IA/TA, and peers.

In addition to the virtual showcase where you will have a chance to get input from external experts and peers, the instructor team, include Prof Dow will provide written comments and a grade for each team. Please refer to this Google sheet with links to all team folders and the Zoom link. In the spirit of sharing, please make sure your team folder is well organized and "open to view" for anyone who has the link. Your three main artifacts (video, poster and webpage) should be in the top level of your team folder. All your process documentation, drafts, etc should be in sub folders. Please have all of your materials in your team folder by 11am on March 17th. Your video should be there by noon on March 16th so that Lu Sun can test the audio and visuals in time to fix issues if needed.

Grading Criteria

This assignment brings together a number of different aspects. We will grade these based on design process, communication quality, and the promise of the proposed solution. We will also account for team peer evaluations that each student must fill out by midnight on March 17th.

  • Prototypes and testing:
    1. Does the team create a concrete representation of their concept that can be tested?
    2. Does the team get input on their prototype from at least 3 potential users?
    3. Does the team document their testing and demonstrate key lessons from their prototype testing?
    4. Does the team document the overall process and the iterative effort put into creating a minimal viable prototype?
  • Poster (description of the problem):
    1. Does the poster succinctly and convincingly describe the problem being addressed and why it’s important to solve now?
    2. Does the team include data (stats, photos, quotes) to support this choice?
    3. Does the team effectively map out existing solutions, technologies, and workarounds (both within San Diego and beyond)?
    4. Does the team include a clear value exchange diagram that explains how stakeholders currently interact and where the tensions exist?
  • Poster (description of the solution):
    1. Does the poster visually illustrate the proposed solution (e.g., photos of a prototype)?
    2. Does this proposal expand on what San Diego already has? How unique is the solution compared to other available solutions?
    3. Does the team show how the solution could affect people (both positively and negatively)?
    4. Does the implementation plan describe exactly what would be needed to create another prototype/pilot of your concept (e.g., budget, implementation plan)? Does it hypothesize on who would be most likely to fund it?
    5. Does the budget include reasonable estimates for start-up expenses?
  • Poster (communication quality):
    1. Does the poster follow a style guide and match the portfolio page?
    2. Does the poster include lots of visuals and not too much text? Does it have a strong "point of entry"?
    3. Was the poster printed and mounted to the wall in time for the Final Showcase?
  • Video:
    1. Does the video pitch make a convincing case for a new civic design?
    2. Does the video pitch concisely and visually illustrate the problem and proposed solution through a user scenario?
    3. What is the technical quality of the video? Are there any rendering or sound issues? Was it ready the night before?
  • Portfolio:
    1. Does the portfolio (website or crowdfunding campaign) make a compelling case to gain support?
    2. Does the team include key details that will help others in the community understand the problem and proposed solution?
  • Process and teamwork:
    1. Does the team's poster demonstrates the rigor of their human-centered design process?
    2. Does the team's shared folder include process materials (i.e., user research data, rough drafts, internal notes) that shows you worked hard on this?
    3. How effectively did the team work together? Did everyone play a key role and make contributions? Does the team get along?