Using Storytelling to Improve Usability and Plain Language


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Workshop slides from Plain Talk in Complex Times - Center for Health Literacy Conference 2012

Published in: Technology, Design

Using Storytelling to Improve Usability and Plain Language

  1. 1. Using Storytelling to ImproveUsability and Plain LanguageWhitney QuesenberyWQusability
  2. 2. Hi! Me } User researcher } Theatre designer } Storytelling as a way to understand user, culture, and context in UX design How about you?2
  3. 3. Stories connect us Stories make UX personal. They remind us that everything we make is made for a real @ianeverdell
  4. 4. We all tell storiesYou already knowhow to tell stories......but you may notknow how to usestories effectively inyour work. 4
  5. 5. Our brains are wired to tell stories5
  6. 6. Changing a story can change the way we think Our experience of the world is shaped by our interpretations of it, the stories we tell ourselves.... so the key toTimothy Wilson, author of “Redirect” personal transformation is story transformation. 6 Maria Popova, ‘Redirect’: A New Way to Think about Psychological Change. The Atlantic, September 9, 2011
  7. 7. Stories connect patients to science7 The NCI Cancer Bulletin:
  8. 8. Stories connect information to personal journeys !8
  9. 9. Stories help us see the individualHow do we understand eachperson, not as part of ademographic, but as anindividual with a history,goals, attitudes andrelationships9
  10. 10. How stories work Storytelling is how we make sense of the world: re-imagining our everyday lives as an experience to be shared with others.Julia’s Journal –
  11. 11. Stories are not a broadcast transmission11
  12. 12. Stories create connections Story Storyteller Audience12
  13. 13. Stories create relationships User Story as collected We can meet people through their stories Story as UX person re-told Our colleagues (audience)13
  14. 14. Stories create meaning Elizabeth, 32 years old Married to Joe, has a 5-year oldAged 30-45 son, Justin45% married withchildren Attended State College, and manages her class alumni site65% college educatedUse the web 3-5 times Uses Google as her home page,a week and reads CNN online Used the web to find the name of a local official 14
  15. 15. Good personas... } Are based on research data } Include information about demographics, top tasks, search skills, usability needs } But most of all, tell a story that lets us recognize the persona as someone we can empathize with15
  16. 16. Personas can also be quick sketches16
  17. 17. What can we learn from this short story? 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.17
  18. 18. What makes a good story?Stories have} Time and place} Characters} EventsBut they also have} Emotions} Imagery} Interaction} Motivation metaphor, movement, weather, atmosphere, happiness, pride, frustration, boredom, joy, smell, anger, pleasure, history, context, time, goals.... 18
  19. 19. Stories start with listening User Story as collected } Show that you are aware of the other person } Be quiet. Give the person time to think as well as to talk. Story asUX person re-told } Use verbal and non-verbal gestures to “take your turn” in the conversation without redirecting it. Our colleagues (audience) } Show warmth and caring about what you are hearing. } Reflect back what you hear, when appropriate, by responding to what you heard or restating 19
  20. 20. Listen (and watch) for juicy fragmentsLook 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
  21. 21. User Story asAsk the questions that collected 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]?” + Story asUX person “When was the re-told last time you [did that thing]?” Our colleagues (audience) + “Tell me about that.” (and really listen) 21
  22. 22. Storytelling in our work A good story will evoke emotion. We humans remember emotions @mike_me_up
  23. 23. FIGURE 5-2Stories are embedded in our work Mee#ng  the  users. FIGURE 5-5 Understand FIGURE 5-3 Illustra#ng  user  needs  and   points  of  pain Story as test And then I... scenario FIGURE 5-4 Success Clusters of stories Evaluate Specify UX person ? Usability participant UX team Evalua#ng  the  work   in  progress Stories Design idea Design Brainstorming  new  success   UX team stories  and  exploring  ideas23 Human-centred design processes for interactive systems ISO 9241-210. (formerly ISO 13407)
  24. 24. FIGURE 5-2We just don’t call them stories User research FIGURE 5-5 Ethnography Personas FIGURE 5-3 Contextual inquiry Site visits Affinity analysis Card sorting Story as test And then I... scenario FIGURE 5-4 Clusters of stories UX person Usability participant UX team Usability Testing Walk-throughs Stories Analytics Design idea Scenarios Storyboards Wireframes UX team Prototypes24
  25. 25. Stories can spark innovationThey can start from...} Stories you hear during from (or about) users } Explore new perspectives on a problem or goal} Personas } Show their behavior in new situations} Data } Explore the story behind the data} Juicy fragments } Explain the unexpectedWhat’s the story outside the box 25
  26. 26. Unexpected stories Gina gave us the first tidbit. She was a } Character nurse manager for the county health Establish perspective or system. “I’m on the move all day and I relationship have a huge case load. Patients are always throwing new questions at me. } Context Yesterday, I really struggled to sort out a Set up the problem problem one patient was having with side effects. I speak a little Spanish, but } Imagery just couldn’t remember the correct Suggest emotions or medical term to explain a new adjuvant experience the doctor wanted to try. It was so frustrating.” She pointed at the sketch. “I don’t have } a phone that will do all that - yet, but if it’s really that simple…” 26
  27. 27. Juicy fragments can grow into a story le “When I’m ts of p e op waiting eeing lo form. It f or a bu s, I wi “I love s tro plat a way to kn sh I had e on the m eans a train w ill ow when m it will arriv e.” usually n.” o a rrive so “When the bu nning late, I can drive marked, I a s stop isn’t well“If I’m ru ain.” lways worr y whether Iif I’m go ing to miss the tr in the right place.” ’m 27
  28. 28. Stories explore situations and context } Context There is nothing more frustrating than Set up the problem waiting for the bus. On a suburban road. In the snow. } Character The persona creates Sandra didn’t like snow much anyway, the perspective and but she liked standing at her bus stop relationship even less, with snow oozing into her boots and cars splashing ice at her. } Imagery Suggests the Had she missed it? Was it right around emotional connections the corner? Was it even running with all this snow? Was anything going to get her to work on time today?28
  29. 29. Stories explore situations and context (2) } Context Much as Ian loved staying out with his Different setting friends until the pubs closed, he hated getting back home late at night. } Character Different person and Was the train still running, or did he situation have to trudge over to the stop for the night bus -- 5 blocks that seemed much } Same basic problem longer after a few beers. And there was the tedium of watching the bus wind through the streets.29
  30. 30. Stories for brainstorming} Start from a juicy fragment, analysis data, or a usability problem} Construct a story that sets up the context... but does not provide a solution.} Be sure you ground the story with a character (or persona), a context (place, time, situation), a motivation, and a problem. 30
  31. 31. Brainstorming from points of pain to a new storySigns on the platformwith when the train willarrive. Text message with the time the next bus will arrive. App that taps into transit information for bus or train locations. Website with Bus checks off its information arrival on the schedule. 31
  32. 32. A new ending to Sandra’s StoryAfter she’d waited for a few minutes, Sandra } Sets up a possiblebrushed enough snow off the sign to be able to solutionread the stop number.She had the RideFind number in herphone’s contact list, so all she had to dowas enter the number of the bus stop into atext message.A couple of seconds later, the reply cameback. The bus was 10 minutes away,running late. She’d get to work thismorning. 32
  33. 33. Crafting a story Stories help us empathize and experience another person’s condition. Stories appeal to our emotions and drive us to action.Mary and Leonard Trujillo – The Mudhead Gallery @balchenn
  34. 34. Let’s create a story } Start from something you have experienced in your work. } Think of a specific about the person and a specific event } Maybe a story about... } Something you learned about their perspectives or goals } A need they didn’t know they had } A delightful or painful experience } What is important about this story? What do you want to share? } Write a story you can tell in one minute34
  35. 35. Feedback} How was that?} Did anyone have trouble finding a story to tell?} What was it like to } Just listen to someone else’s story? } Be listened to?} How did it feel to get an appreciation instead of a criticism? 35
  36. 36. Each voice expresses a relationship36
  37. 37. 3rd person allows you to explain and interpret Whose words and thoughts are these? } Are these things that Mary would say or are they our interpretation of all the data and stories that went into the Mary persona? } How can we show when we are using her own words? Does this communicate } Research authority } A neutral picture } A realist tale37
  38. 38. 2nd person creates a conversation } What are the relationships here? } Is the researcher in the story? } Is it “you” and “me” or “we” } Can creating a sense of identify motivate action?38 Courtesy Ian Roddis, OU and Caroline Jarrett
  39. 39. 1st person invites identification39 Just LIke Me - Determining Eligibility Online with Personalized Narratives - Thea van der Geest and Lex van Velsen, UPA 2010
  40. 40. Stories can be test scenarios} They create a realistic context because they are based on real stories.} They give you a range of stories and perspectives to draw on. 40
  41. 41. Transforming a story to a test task} Use stories to decide on tasks that let the participant “finish the story” Another person just got promoted } Motivation ahead of you. You know you are good at Enough of a story to your job but notice that everyone else provide motivation has a degree in business. Maybe it’s time to go back to school. } Goal Does the local college have a program The task can be very you can manage with your work precise, or allow the schedule? participant more freedom 41
  42. 42. Stories can make your workricher and more persuasive Stories take our audience on a journey and enable leaps of faith. @MarkErhardt
  43. 43. Stories use pull, not push, to engage (and persuade)They help you think aboutsomething (new)…In a realistic situationWith a compelling characterand perspectiveAnd imagine how it will solvea problem 43
  44. 44. Questions?