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Using storytelling to explore the rich context of user experience (Agile 2010)
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Using storytelling to explore the rich context of user experience (Agile 2010)


Using storytelling to explore the rich context of user experience …

Using storytelling to explore the rich context of user experience

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  • This is to double-check my understandingAnd, to show that they are almost there – I’m just adding to their experiences
  • WQBy putting stories into this cycle, we’ve done something important… we’ve brought the people back into the process – perhaps explaining why it’s a “human” centered process.
  • Short story fragment… how much to we learn from even this Interactive with audience:Prompt forHow old is Tanner?How do we know?What’s Tanner’s relationship with technology?How about with his family?
  • Before we dive into UX, I’d like to take a short diversion into a little bit about what we mean by stories. Mention stories are good stuffAnyone here think that you aren’t a very good storyteller?
  • In fact, broadcast transmissions don’t even work as one-way communication.Not an INFORMATION CONDUIT metaphor in Lakoff’s terms
  • So, you have to
  • KBDescribe the story triangle.
  • Then, you add one more thing, which is to simply use 4 magic words, and invite them to tell you the story. And, you do the most important thing of all – you give them your full attention and wait. Don’t fiddle with your notes, or start to pack up your papers. You have to invite people to tell you their story, especially if you have been delving into details or had a list of things you had to get through.
  • What are the requirements hidden in these fragments?How are they different because we’ve heard them in their own language
  • One of the most importatnt uses of stories are in personas.(Define, if needed – not They are based on dataBut, people are more than just data.Stories let you add context, perspective, and details.
  • WQ
  • SO, if you are the person who collected the user story, you may have to retell it to your colleagues.
  • WQ
  • Similar stories in different contexts:Getting home from the pub late at night in London (is your line still running)Same basic problem even though a different persona. (Make a slide?)
  • Similar stories in different contexts:Getting home from the pub late at night in London (is your line still running)Same basic problem even though a different persona. (Make a slide?)
  • WQ – Get AUDIENCE INPUT – then show all Each of these suggests a different technology solution.How to evaluate?Tell a story. Think about different stories that explores these or other solutions(Can a story make problems in the idea self-evident?)This can be an exercise in a longer workshop


  • 1. Using storytelling to explore the rich context of user experience
    Whitney Quesenbery
    Agile 2010 UX Stage
    Orlando, FL
    August 10, 2010
  • 2. Hi! I’m Whitney
    User researcher, UX designer, usability
    Former theatre designer
    Storytelling as a way to understand user, culture, and context in UX design
    Co-author, Storytelling for User Experience
    Researcher in new UI technologies
    Performance storyteller
    Storytelling as a pivotal part of the creation, performance, and design process.
    Kevin Brooks – also part of the picture
  • 3. How we use stories
  • 4. Stories are a natural way to communicate
    Convey knowledge
    Inspire thought
    Build relationship and community
  • 5. User stories in Agile
    A placeholder for a conversationNot the whole story, but a reminder of it
    A way to gather requirementsFrom customers, in their own language
    Customer focused“As a [role] I can [do something] so that [benefit]”
    Written by customers (sometimes)From their perspective
  • 6. Storytelling is also part of UX
  • 7. Stories are integral to many UX activities
    Field studies
    Site visits
    Affinity analysis
    Content analysis
    Usability Testing
    Log Analysis
    Prototype walk-through
  • 8. Stories add depth to the big picture
    Showing activities in context help you understand more clearly when, where and how a product will be used.
    Stories are an efficient way to communicate non-functional requirements or user characteristics
    Thinking in stories connects similar activities, attitudes, or goals across functions.
  • 9. Stories communicate efficiently
    Tanner was deep into a Skatepunkz game—all the way up to level 12—when he got a buddy message from his friend, Steve, with a question about his homework.
    He looked up with a start. Almost bedtime and his homework was still not done. Mom or Dad would be in any minute.
    What can we learn about Tanner from this short story?
  • 10. We all tell stories
  • 11. Listening Exercise
    Work in pairs - with someone you don’t know
    1 minutes to speak - then switch
    Speaker’s job - speak about something relatively comfortable
    Listener’s job - just listen. Don’t have to talk, interrupt or fill silences.
    Talk aboutsomething that happened while you were on the way to Orlando.
  • 12. Claude Shannon was wrong*
    Stories do not work like a broadcast transmission.
    Stories are created by everyone who hears them.
    * At least about stories.
  • 13. A story is shared by everyone who hears it
    Someone starts telling a story
    As they listen, the audience members form their own images of the story.
  • 14. A story is shared by everyone who hears it
    The storyteller and the audience both shape the story.
    In the end, each person in the audience ‘owns’ the story, too
    The audience is a part of the story each time it is told.
  • 15. People understand stories in the context oftheir own experience
  • 16. The relationships around a story are called the Story Triangle
  • 17. Collecting stories
  • 18. Ask the questions that encourage stories
    “Have you ever [done something]?”
    “How often do you [do that thing]?”
    “What makes you decide to [do that thing]?”
    “Where do you [do that thing]?”
    “When was the last time you [did that thing]?”
    “Tell me about that.”
    (and really listen)
  • 19. While you are listening,turn on your juicy story filter
    You are looking for stories that….
    You hear from more than one source.
    Have a lot of action detail.
    Have details that illuminate user data
    Surprise or contradict common beliefs
    And are clear, simple, and compelling.
  • 20. Juicy fragments can grow into a story
    “I love seeing lots of people on the metro platform. It usually means a train will arrive soon.”
    “Nothing more aggavating waiting for a bus. Have I just missed it? Is it on its way? What’s the scoop?”
    “It’s like a game: drive or take the bus – which will get me there first?”
    “When the bus stop isn’t clearly marked, I always worry whether I’m in the right place.”
  • 21. User Persona stories
  • 22. Data  Persona
    Aged 30-45Well educated45% married with children50% use the web 3-5 times a week65% in community activities
    Elizabeth, 32 years old
    Married to Joe, has a 5-year old son, Justin
    Attended State College, and manages her class alumni site
    Uses Google as her home page, and reads CNN online
    Used the web to find the name of a local official
  • 23. Shared stories can identify similar users
    Based on real data
    Constructed from shared stories
    Explains goals and motivations
    Helps you empathize withtheir point of view
  • 24. Stories close a gap
    When you retell a story, you make a connection between your colleagues and the person you heard the story from.
  • 25. Personas let you explore situations and ideas
    The persona as a character provides perspective
    The relationships create the context
    The imagery suggests emotional connections
    The language can suggest the voice of the persona
  • 26. There is nothing more frustrating than waitingfor the bus. On a suburban road. In the snow.
    Sandra didn’t like snow much anyway, but she liked standing at her bus stop even less, with snow oozing into her boots and cars splashing ice at her.
    Had she missed it? Was it right around the corner? Was it even running with all this snow?
    Was anything going to get her to work on time today?
    Stories explore situations and context
    Context Set up the problem
    Character The persona creates the perspective andrelationship
    Imagery Suggests theemotionalconnections
  • 27. Much as Ian loved staying out with his friends until the pubs closed, he hated getting home late at night.
    Was the train still running, or did he have to trudge over to the stop for the night bus – two blocks that seemed much longer after a few beers?
    And there was the tedium of watching the bus wind through the streets.
    Stories explore situations and context (2)
    Context Different setting
    Character Different situation
    Same basic problem
  • 28. What design ideas does the story suggest?
    Put bus schedules on the web with real-time updates
    Send a text message and get a message back with the ETA for the next bus
    Signs at the bus stop saying how long until the next one
    Service alerts with emails about problems
    Stories help you explore ideas in context!
  • 29. Personas help you explore design ideas
    Work with a partner again
    Use one of your stories about traveling
    Write a story sentence that describes the need that the story expresses
    Pick one of the personas
    Now, write a short story that explores a design idea that will work for that persona
    As a [role] I want to [do something] so that I can [benefit] [like this].
  • 30. First the storyteller shapes the story
    Mark – The Commuter
    About Mark
    28 years old, single
    Shares a house in the suburbs
    Uses a computer, but is not focused on it
    Don’t waste a lot of time figuring things out, don’t get stuck with no way to get home
    Hates being inconvenienced.
    Mark lives in a suburb and commutes to his job in the city center. He likes his job, but commuting is just something he has to endure to be able to live near his friends. They are an important part of his life – and he spends his evenings and weekends just hanging out with them.
    His biggest gripe about commuting is that the trains seem to be late all the time, and that these days they are also very crowded. He likes to be able to read his sports magazines, or sleep on the train, so he’s not happy about “people who sit on the train and “yammer into their phones”
    A couple of times a month, Mark and some of his friends from work go out to a bar, or to watch a ball game at someone’s apartment. He always seems to end up sitting at the station waiting for the next train.
  • 31. Chris – The Urbanite
    About Chris
    32 years, married
    Live in the city
    Uses her hand-held all the time for web
    Stops into internet cafes if she needs a better connection
    Broadband at home
    Get arount town efficiently
    Hates waiting
    Chris lives in the city, so she uses public transportation as her main way to get around.
    She works as a service rep and spends most of her time at customer offices, checking in with them and handling any problems. Her days can be complicated, as she tries to be on time as she goes from place to place.
    She took the job because she likes variety, but this also means that she doesn’t use the same bus or train every day, like some of her friends. Instead, she’s become a bit of an expert in getting around her city, for example, knowing what great little restaurant is near a train stop. She’s become a bit of an expert and likes it when her friends ask her for advice.
    Her husband also works in the city, and they often meet after work for dinner or to go out with friends.
  • 32. First the storyteller shapes the story
    Sandra (& Lloyd) – The Tourists
    About Sandra
    62 years old
    Travels both alone and with her husband, Lloyd
    Lives in a small town
    Computer at work
    Broadband at home
    Plan her vacation confidently.
    Find the best values for her money.
    Doesn’t like new situations. Worries about safety
    Sandra does not use public transportation in her daily life, but when she and her family go on vacation, or when she travels to another city, she does not like to have to drive.
    She uses the Web to research her travels. She is usually confident in making hotel and air reservations online, but she cannot always find information about local transport options.
    Sometimes she has found a good value on a tourism site – for example, learning that there are local trains for a small fraction of a taxi from the airport.
    Sandra is more concerned about her personal safety, now that she’s getting older, and she also worries about missing her stop or misunderstanding the directions and getting lost.
  • 33. Tell your stories
  • 34. After she’d waited for a few minutes, Sandra brushed enough snow off the sign to be able to read the stop number.
    She had the RideFind number in her phone’s contact list, so all she had to do was enter the number of the bus stop into a text message.
    A couple of seconds later, the reply came back. The bus was 10 minutes away, running late. She’d get to work this morning.
    A new ending to Sandra’s story…
  • 35. Stories spark innovation
    Stories can be part of brainstorming
    Start with…
    Stories you hear during customer conversations
    Explore new perspectives on a problem or goal
    Show their behavior in new situations
    Explorations that look behind the data
    Random elements
    Force yourself outside the box
  • 36. Storytelling can make your work richer and more effective
  • 37. Storytelling for User Experience:Crafting stories for better design
    Whitney Quesenbery & Kevin Brookswhitneyq@wqusability.combrooks@media.mit.edu
    Blog and book sitewww.rosenfeldmedia.com/books/storytelling/
    Use code AGILE10 for 20% off
    Ilustrations available under Creative Commons www.flickr.com/photos/rosenfeldmedia/