Abstract

One of the perennial questions faced by designers, researchers, and students of design is to what extent they should develop a prototype in order to learn the most from it. In some cases, a simple paper sketch is sufficient. In others, a fully functional version is necessary in order to adequately convey the core concept. In this paper, we focus on the latter end of the spectrum, and propose that one way to quickly and efficiently create these kinds of prototypes is to identify and use one of the publicly-available application programming interfaces (APIs) that can be quickly found in API databases. In short, we seek to simplify prototyping in the field of Interaction Design that appears complex and multidisciplinary with a lot of moving pieces and formulate a way to streamline rapid prototyping. We argue that proper choice and use of an API allows designers with minimal knowledge in Information technology to skip the complexities associated with multidisciplinary ideas and enables them instead to traverse different regions of the design space. This helps prototyping, even in this fully-functional space, to take on additional roles such as a generator of design ideas, stimulus for reflection, and influence on behaviors in order to discover and refine design ideas. We ground our discussion in a case study focusing on design process of a language learning prototype that accesses half a dozen APIs to analyze uttered speech and visualize lexical stress in real-time.

Keywords:

Application Programming Interface, API, prototype, human-computer interaction, design space

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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Jul 9th, 12:00 AM

Why Design Students Need Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)

One of the perennial questions faced by designers, researchers, and students of design is to what extent they should develop a prototype in order to learn the most from it. In some cases, a simple paper sketch is sufficient. In others, a fully functional version is necessary in order to adequately convey the core concept. In this paper, we focus on the latter end of the spectrum, and propose that one way to quickly and efficiently create these kinds of prototypes is to identify and use one of the publicly-available application programming interfaces (APIs) that can be quickly found in API databases. In short, we seek to simplify prototyping in the field of Interaction Design that appears complex and multidisciplinary with a lot of moving pieces and formulate a way to streamline rapid prototyping. We argue that proper choice and use of an API allows designers with minimal knowledge in Information technology to skip the complexities associated with multidisciplinary ideas and enables them instead to traverse different regions of the design space. This helps prototyping, even in this fully-functional space, to take on additional roles such as a generator of design ideas, stimulus for reflection, and influence on behaviors in order to discover and refine design ideas. We ground our discussion in a case study focusing on design process of a language learning prototype that accesses half a dozen APIs to analyze uttered speech and visualize lexical stress in real-time.

 

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