HCDE 451: Final Reflection

Michelle (Xin) Gao
4 min readDec 12, 2019


What I have learned

I really enjoyed this class because I had fun (also experienced many frustrations too )playing all different types of prototyping techniques. Knowing how to design and laser cut a phone stand, how to build a 3D model on Rhino, how to sew a side bag and fixed the sewing machine, I am now capable of transferring the flat or digital designs from a two-dimensional scale to three-dimension. I also learned how to achieve design goals by utilizing different resources such as paper, cardboard and other household items. A prototype that made up of cheap materials can still effectively deliver the design idea!

I enjoyed the process of learning new things, but at the same time, frustrations and failures also came with it. One of the biggest challenges was definitely the time frame for each task. I expected to spend a lot of time on familiarizing the newly learned techniques and machines, but I underestimated the time that I would spend on fixing the models. The frustration and anxiety are no joke when you stayed at the Mill Makerspace until 12 but got multiple failed models and broken bags. So when I look at all the prototypes I have created, I am proud of myself.

After the anxious Monday, I would get excited about the coming critique sessions. The weekly critique sessions were helpful and I like how the session is set as a gallery walk. This setting doesn’t make me have the pressure that I have to offer some structural critiques. In terms of critiques, most of the time, we were just appreciating what other people had done and simply sharing our feedback.

“Looks like a wave! Cool Design!” , ”Very unique + sleek curved design!” “I like the rounded design and color way!”, “Ping Pong is genius!”

What I have accomplished

I think I did a nice job in this class because I enjoyed all the assignments. With every project, I did try my best to think out of the box when the assignments asked to make design for daily used items.

All my babies!!

What I really like about this class was the given freedom that allowed us to explore our own ideas. Especially for the final project, which was also my favorite one because I could combine two favorite prototyping methods and played around with them to see how can I use them to achieve the design goal for my own project. I was so glad that I could continue exploring the application of playful technology because it is my field of interest! For the 2.0 Stamp Plate, I made up the pity left from the first time. The first rough box cannot be compared with the perfect interlocking box cut by the laser-cutter. At that moment, I truly the benefits of learning different prototyping techniques. One pity was made up, but a new one was generated. For the Stamp Plate 2.0, I wasn’t able to find kids to conduct the usability test. The fact that I couldn’t evaluate its’ desirability, usability and feasibility on kids made me really disappointed because the Stamp Plate is designed for the kids.

If given the opportunity to do the project differently, I would definitely re-evaluate the possibility of recruiting kids from 2–9 to conduct my usability test and also start the recruitment earlier. Just don’t like this time, I waited until I finished everything and then started looking for kids from 2 to 9, which was impossible to find and impossible to change the design. I remembered Andy mentioned this problem during the Madness time but I was overconfident and naively thought that one of my friends would definitely have siblings from that age range.

The biggest accomplishment of this class is neither my wave-shaped phone stand or my heart-shaped jewelry stand but the learning experience I gained after each failure and tryout. The learning experience from this class is valuable and has shaped me to a more capable designer with all the new skills that I possess :).

What I have contributed

The only project I worked with partners was the behavioral prototype assignment where we made a short video for showing how to perform Wizard of OZ. It was a fun and smooth collaborating process. Everybody was very communicative while sharing our ideas and proactive to take separated tasks. We had a good team dynamic so we were able to finish the assignment effectively. I was the note-taker during the Wizard of Oz and wrote part of the reflection for the process blog. I organized other teammates’ reflections into one process blog so that’s why the blog was submitted through my account. We had a good team dynamic and I didn’t have any trouble working with them. Working as a team, I think the most important thing is to be proactive and communicative.

Final Thoughts

This course was fun, pragmatic but was time-consuming and challenging. I really enjoy it because it was a design-focused class that let you take a break from the theory-heavy classes. I think I have become a more capable designer with all the new skills I have learned. Thanks to the awesome HCDE 451 instructors Andy and Michael :).



Michelle (Xin) Gao

UX Research and Design | UW HCDE Alumna | Class of 2021 @ UW MHCI + D