Wizard of Oz prototyping (WOZ prototyping) is a design methodology used in rapid product development to improve the user experience (UX).
WOZ prototyping requires developers to create a rudimentary model of the completed product, which is called a prototype. The prototype may be quite simple, using every-day objects to represent parts of the finished product or it may be a working model, capable of performing some – but not all – of the tasks they completed product will perform. Once the prototype has been created, developers use role-playing to test how end users will interact with the product.
As UX researchers we often remind people to test systems at every stage of development, and that includes testing before development has even begun. This can save time, money and those ever so embarrassing moments when products are launched before they are fit and ready for users.
The Wizard of Oz methodology allows you to test users’ reactions to a system before you even have to think about development. This could be a new concept you are unsure will work for your users or a project that would require a substantial amount of effort to create, but we want to learn more before it makes sense to invest the time and money, and it cannot be tested with the usual prototype tools. Wizard of Oz is a flexible approach that allows concepts to be tested and modified without having to worry about potentially tiresome code changes, breaks in a daily testing schedule or full development costs.
- Simulated control and response by a researcher behind the scenes, while a participant engages with a system
- Participants are led to believe they are interacting with a working prototype, but in reality, a researcher is acting as a proxy from behind the scenes.
- The “wizard” can intercept and shape the interaction between the participant and the system.
- The goal is to allow a user to realistically experience a product or interface before prototypes are built.
- For an appropriate, timely system response, the researcher must observe participant activity: for example, through video or screen-sharing software.
- The believability of the simulations hinges on the wizard’s consistency with respect to timing, patterns, and system logic.
- This is useful when designing applications that do not already have established design patterns (for example, augmented reality or ubiquitous computing).