Evaluation of prototypes and the problem of possible futures

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Research units

  • University of Helsinki


There is a blind spot in HCI’s evaluation methodology: we rarely consider the implications of the fact that a prototype can never be fully evaluated in a study. A prototype under study exists firmly in the present world, in the circumstances created in the study, but its real context of use is a partially unknown future state of affairs. This present–future gap is implicit in any evaluation of prototypes, be they usability tests, controlled experiments, or field trials. A carelessly designed evaluation may inadvertently evaluate the wrong futures, contexts, or user groups, thereby leading to false conclusions
and expensive design failures. The essay analyses evaluation methodology from this perspective, illuminating how to mitigate the present–future gap.


Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2017 - Proceedings of the 2017 ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventACM SIGCHI Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems - Colorado Convention Center, Denver, United States
Duration: 6 May 201711 May 2017
Conference number: 35


ConferenceACM SIGCHI Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems
Abbreviated titleACM CHI
CountryUnited States
Internet address

    Research areas

  • Evaluation methodology, Field trials, Experiments, Usability studies, Prototypes, Future

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