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Storytelling your way to a better user experience - UPA Boston
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Storytelling your way to a better user experience - UPA Boston



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  • 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.
  • KBBefore 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?
  • WQ
  • KBDescribe the story triangle.
  • WQJust to give you a preview, let’s look at this diagram a different way.Builds around the circle, explain each one.You can see how the relationships shift, as we move around the phases: the central UX person starts as a listening, then moves into using the stories, sharing the stories and then back to an observer position.
  • Either
  • 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
  • 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. Storytelling YourWay to a BetterUser Experience
    Whitney Quesenbery
    Kevin Brooks
    UPA Boston
    June 2010
  • 2. Introductions
    Researcher in new UI technologies
    Performance storyteller
    Storytelling as a pivotal part of the creation, performance, and design process.
    User researcher
    Theatre designer
    Storytelling as a way to understand user, culture, and context in UX design
  • 3. Storytelling is already part of UX
  • 4. Success?
    Storytelling is already part of UX
  • 5. Storytelling is already part of UX…We just don’t call them stories
    Field studies
    Card sorting
    Site visits
    Cluster sorting
    Content analysis
    Usability Testing
    Prototype walk-through
    Log Analysis
  • 6. Storytelling is already part of UX…We just don’t call them stories
    You can use stories to enhance the usability work you are already doing.and
    You can use stories to help you start bringing people into the center of the process.
  • 7. We all tell stories
  • 8. 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 aboutthe time on your way here thatyou were the most bored.
  • 9. “Story” is not just a fancy word for broadcasting information
    Stories start with listening.
  • 10. A story is shared by everyone who hears it
    First the storyteller shapes the story
    As they listen, the audience members form an image of the story in their own minds.
  • 11. A story is shared by everyone who hears it
    The storyteller and the audience each affects the other and shapes the story they create.
    The most important relationship is between the audience and the story.
    The audience is a part of the story each time it is told.
  • 12. A story is shared by everyone who hears it…but heard by each person in their own way
  • 13. The relationships around a story are called the Story Triangle
  • 14. Relationships shift as you movefrom story listener to story teller
  • 15. We’re going to talk about
    Collecting stories
    Personas and their stories
    Stories for testing
  • 16. Collecting stories
  • 17. 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.
  • 18. Structure the discussion to 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.”
  • 19. Look for patterns in the stories,just like any other user research data
  • 20. These story fragments might grow into a story
    “When I’m waiting for a bus, I wish I had a way to know when it will arrive.”
    “I love seeing lots of people on the metro platform. It usually means a train will arrive soon.”
    “When the bus stop isn’t well marked, I always worry whether I’m in the right place.”
    “If I’m running late, I can drive if I’m going to miss the train.”
  • 21. Personas stories
  • 22. Data  Persona
    Aged 30-45Well educated45% married with childrenOver half use the web 3-5 times a week65% use search engines
    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. Stories for your 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
  • 24. There is nothing more frustrating than waiting for the bus in the snow when you’re already running late for work.
    Sandra didn’t like snow much anyway, but she liked standing at her bus stop even less.
    Had she missed it? Was it even running with all this snow?
    She ran over her options in her mind. None of them were going to get her to work on time.
  • 25. 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
    And stories help you explore ideas in context!
  • 26.
  • 27. Evaluating with stories
  • 28. Stories can be used to create scenarios for usability testing
    They create a realistic context because they are based on real stories.
    They give you a range of stories and perspectives to draw on.
  • 29. You commute to work on a suburban bus line. You have a meeting in the morning, and don’t want to be late.
    But, as you eat breakfast you see that snow is piling up on the road.
    Find out if your bus is running on time this morning.
    Transforming a story to a test task
    Turn the story to set up the situtation, then let the participant “finish the story” as the test task.
  • 30. Stories can make your usability work more effective
  • 31. Storytelling for User Experience:Crafting stories for better design
    Whitney Quesenbery & Kevin
    Blog and book
    Ilustrations available under Creative Commons