introduction

sketch
In user experience design I have expertise in the following areas:
• user-centred storyboards,
• the design of software architectures, site maps and interaction models,
• the development and implementation of focus groups,
• the research and development of personas, and
• the authorship of user scenarios
.

graphic scenario

user-centred storyboards
I have pioneered the adaption of storyboards to user-centred design. Storyboards are a sketching technique traditiionally used in the advertising industry. They have some superficial similarities to comics, a format that Kevin Cheng of Yahoo! recently brought to the attention of the design and technology communities at an AI Summit workshop, 2006. Comics have a history rooted in humor, whereas storyboards have evolved as a pre-production sketching tool for live action video, advertisements and movies. As such, storyboards have a serious purpose that focuses on conveying important information, and they are cautious about conveying personal attitudes. To be clear about the intent of storyboards adapted for user experience design, I coined the term 'graphic scenario'. More...

My work has been used by leading telecommunications, IT and software enterprises for internal presentations to help communicate design concepts across diverse groups and departments, and in customer-facing focus groups tests. More...

graphic scenario management and production
I have developed proprietary systems to streamline the production of graphic scenarios, manage multiple scenarios, facilitate collaboration, achieve consistencies, and provide multiple output formats(below).


scenario manager

The scenario manager brings the elements of text and imagery together
to enable composition and editing of scripts, storyline and dialog.

evolution
In 2005, a prototype kit that provided a client with the capability to develop graphic scenarios in-house led to research into a UX ideation and sketching system called workPlay.

figures


workPlay


software architecture, site maps and interaction models
There is a sizable crossover here with the discipline of information design, although when used in the context of user experience design, 'information modeling' may serve as a better term. The kinds of views of software, web sites and interactions that are useful changes depending on the stage of development and who's looking. The types of differences probably mirror the progression we see in use cases, user stories, and scenarios – shifting from low-level views for technical requirements to high-level views for upper management and costomers. The former requiring a kind of precise, visual shorthand, the later needing a bit more 'flesh' with heaps of generalities.

system architecture
A medium-level view of the entranceway to an online service.
This diagram doesn't tell a software engineer how to start building
the program, but it tells him what is important to the user. It also
provides everyone on the customer team with a 'sketched' view
that can act as a starting point for discussions about how the site
might be used.

focus groups
By supporting usability analysts, product managers and software developers, I learned a great deal about focus groups, usability tests, and the differences between them. In 2007 I conducted my first focus group, a group of 7 Master of Arts students at the University of Sunderland reviewed a storyboard that showcased an early design for the workPlay ideation and sketching system. The storyboard depicted 'StarTrek:Next Generation'(the movie), in 54-frames. I needed to know if the graphical system conveyed information sufficiently well to make the story understandable. The results were mixed. The design and my research methods needed some work.

survey
Completing online and paper questionnaires at the University of Sunderland are:
Vanessa Carr(student), Neil Ewins(programme leader) and Nene Stam(Student).

Six months later I conducted a series of three, online reviews for the same project that brought together an international panel of professionals, academics and experts in their field. Using a mixed method approach the questionnaire gathered both quantitive and qualitative information through a series of precisely-written and ordered questions. More...

personas
Most companies involved in the user-centred design of products and services develop user personas in order to better understand their customers. Generally, these take the form of a written description or a collection of information about each 'class' of user. Some larger enterprises develop visual representations of their personas. One client I know built life-sized, stand-up cutouts to remind his technical team who they were working for. I have experience in researching a customer base, identifying classes of users, ranking them, and developing a comprehensive textual and visual profile of each class.

 

This small calculator(right) was created to rank a group of personas. It calculates their likelyhood of using workPlay in the course of their work. The methodology was based on secondary research that, first, looked at job roles in companies engaged in development of software or new technologies. It looked at their job titles, the titles of those they generally work closely with, their responsabilities, their needs and their goals. It also took copies of their portraites, discovered their character traits, their likely gender and age range.
Sample job discriptions of each persona were scanned for the occurance of keywords. Each keyword was assigned a score. Words most closely associated with processes that use scenarios, such as persona, vision planning, and product planning, ranked highest. The calculator then takes the score(right column) and divides it by the number of keywords to produce a 'score average'. This enabled the material developed for testing to be targeted to the most likely user, or persona.

   
persona calc
 
  personas  
 
More portraites were researched to built-up a better profile of the appearance and dress for each persona. Then, a set of graphic personas was created(above).  
scenario scripting
 
A method of arranging a user scenario, breaking into scenes, and then into frames with a storyline and dialog.

scenario tutorials
In 2007, I gave a presentation to a customer team at IBM/Cognos. It outlined a method for authoring scenarios. Since, the method has been successfully used in several end-to-end software development projects. It has also been integrated into proprietary scenario management tools that streamline the development of multiple scenarios(see 'graphic scenario management and production' above).