Much work on display-based ubicomp systems (and rapid prototyping in general) focus on producing proof-of-concept demonstrators, usually to gauge technical feasibility and collect initial user feedback. In our work, we've found that it's often equally important to investigate factors such as use and appropriation and that in some cases, without user studies, technical feasibility can be meaningless. We used rapid prototyping combined with a phased, iterative, and user-centered design approach to develop five display-based ubicomp systems for real-world use over time. In this article, we discuss our aims, approach, and lessons learned. The ubicomp systems that we developed and deployed use rapid prototyping techniques and a user-centered design approach.