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Storytelling as a UX Superpower

We know that, as designers mature, they need to understand how to tell a story about their work. But how do you coach them in storytelling when stories can take so many forms depending on the phase of a project? In this presentation, Dani Nordin of athenahealth will share a framework she’s created to help designers at athenahealth craft a compelling story at various phases of a project—from design scenarios to research plans to portfolio case studies.

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Storytelling as a UX Superpower

  1. 1. Storytelling as a UX superpower Dani Nordin Director UX, athenahealth
  2. 2. Who is this bish? Dani Nordin Director of UX, Orders Zones at athenahealth Part-time Lecturer, Northeastern University CPS Author, Drupal for Designers (2012, O’Reilly), Designing with Empathy (2015, O’Reilly) Mama, knitter, troublemaker. I drink coffee and I know things. danigrrl daninordin.com Linkedin.com/in/daninordin
  3. 3. Design since 1995ish. Writing since 1991.
  4. 4. My first published piece in 1992
  5. 5. Stories Matter.
  6. 6. Craft is not enough.
  7. 7. 10% of our work is the actual ideas and the things we make. The other 90% is getting people to agree with your ideas. Dr. Sarah Drummond
  8. 8. Typically, we focus on storytelling as design scenarios A 20-year old woman goes to see her OB for recurring pelvic pain due to endometriosis. The doctor looks at the patient’s history and notices that multiple treatments, such as hormone therapy and pain medication, haven’t worked. She decides to refer the patient to a surgeon for a consultation.
  9. 9. But stories are all around us.
  10. 10. Stories live in the: v business cases we build for our work v metrics we choose to measure success v data we use to guide our decisionmaking v way we talk about our work with colleagues
  11. 11. How do we tell the story of what we’re trying to do?
  12. 12. Stories in UX come in three flavors: PURPOSE GOALS EXAMPLES Explain Describe “what is” to set the stage Usability issues & bugs Research findings Existing state blueprints Persuade Contrast current with desired state to get buy-in and inspire action Vision decks Storyboards Case studies Align Reframe and document shared expectations among the team Experience briefs Design scenarios Design documentation
  13. 13. The elements, tone, and altitude with which you build the story are defined by the story’s purpose.
  14. 14. Story Elements Who is doing the thing Character Conflict What happens to cause friction or character pain. What happens to resolve the conflict. Resolution What is being done Situation How the character is changed by the resolution (or the conflict) Impact
  15. 15. A 20-year old woman goes to see her OB for recurring pelvic pain due to endometriosis. The doctor looks at the patient’s history and notices that multiple treatments, such as hormone therapy and pain medication, haven’t worked. She decides to refer the patient to a surgeon for a consultation. Character Situation Conflict Resolution SCENARIO
  16. 16. A 20-year old woman goes to see her OB for recurring pelvic pain due to endometriosis. The doctor looks at the patient’s history and notices that multiple treatments, such as hormone therapy and pain medication, haven’t worked. She decides to refer the patient to a surgeon for a consultation. Character Situation Conflict Resolution PART ONE At the surgeon’s office, the scheduler receives a referral from a new patient. She knows that the specialist is going to require a set of lab tests before she sees the patient, and results from those tests aren’t with the referral. She calls the referring doctor’s office to ask about test results, and requests a copy of them. Character Situation Conflict Resolution PART 2 The stories we design for may contain multiple stages and characters
  17. 17. Surgical ordering is complex and lacks accelerators - resulting in paper-based workflows. The surgery order is a catalyst for several different activities across both care settings, all of which have their own distinct documents, tasks and orders which belong in the relevant care setting. Proceduralists are comfortable and fast using paper sheets, and hospitals may require specific formats which can not be accommodated within the EHR. Navigating this complexity often results in surgical orders being placed on paper, which are then delegated to support staff to set up across the relevant care settings. Conflict Impact Situation Resolution Impact Elements may move around based on the nature of the story RESEARCH INSIGHT
  18. 18. The tone in which we tell it may vary based on context Sympathetic Pragmatic
  19. 19. The tone in which we tell it may vary based on context Visionary Urgent Proud Sympathetic
  20. 20. The tone in which we tell it may vary based on context Optimistic Sympathetic Pragmatic
  21. 21. 5 ft: deep into the details 5,000 ft: individual workflows 10,000 ft: focused themes across a single problem space 30,000 ft: broad overview of a complete problem space
  22. 22. 5 ft: deep into the details 5,000 ft: individual workflows 10,000 ft: focused themes across a single problem space 30,000 ft: broad overview of a complete problem space
  23. 23. 5 ft: deep into the details 5,000 ft: individual workflows 10,000 ft: focused themes across a single problem space 30,000 ft: broad overview of a complete problem space
  24. 24. PROBLEM STATEMENT The operative report is key information referenced by the clinicians during the Post-Op follow up visit. This information is captured in the acute EHR and pulled into athenaOne so providers in the clinic setting can get a complete picture of what happened to the patient outside the clinic. Today, when Proceduralists are preparing for a patient post-op follow up visit, they need to click into each of several operative reports in order to find the one they need, due to a lack of descriptive information on the report’s listing in the patient chart. This results in frustration and delays. We believe that by making the name of the procedure performed easily discoverable within common athenaClinicals workflows, clinicians can more easily find the right operative note and make informed decisions for their patients. Character Situation Conflict Impact Resolution Impact 5,000 ft
  25. 25. BUSINESS RATIONALE The current Inbox provides insufficient information for verifying patient identities, identifying the nature and status of each task, and prioritizing and executing workflows efficiently. As a result, it does not adequately empower clients to complete the multi-step, multi-person workflows that are critical to their business. The first step in addressing this problem must be to enable users to see and make sense of the relevant information for each task, so that they can understand what they’re looking at. This is sine qua non for any viable task management system. This first iteration will: • Enable clients to spend less time opening documents, and more time working documents, thus increasing productivity / efficiency • Deliver a visually and technologically modern Inbox solution that’s more scalable, flexible, and performant Once we’ve completed this first step, additional capabilities (e.g. enhanced sorting, filtering, batch actions, etc.) will provide even more meaningful value. Character Situation Conflict Resolution Impact 10,000 ft
  26. 26. SUCCESS METRICS 5000 ft For more info, see the HEART Framework: https://www.dtelepathy.com/ux-metrics/ Objective: Team members can easily tell when more work needs to be done without having to "check" the work multiple times to understand what the next action is. Signal: Tasks are opened fewer times before being moved to the next stage, particularly on multi-touch tasks like surgeries and referrals Metrics: Touches to Completion (decrease); Task Completion Rate (unchanged or increased) Character Resolution Impact Situation
  27. 27. Principles Storytelling
  28. 28. 1 Know what kind of story you’re telling
  29. 29. Don’t drown people in data 2
  30. 30. H 1 Hydrogen 1.008 U 92 Uranium 238.03 Mn 25 Manganese 54.938 Be 4 Beryllium 9.0122 In 49 Indium 114.82 Lead with the human element 3
  31. 31. Have a clear point of view 4
  32. 32. Key Takeaways v Stories matter v Stories live in all the ways we talk about our work v Being thoughtful about how we structure and tell our stories can set us up for success
  33. 33. The problem is this: no spreadsheet, no bibliography, and no list of resources is sufficient proof to someone who chooses not to believe. The skeptic will always find a reason, even if it’s one the rest of us don’t think is a good one. Relying too much on proof distracts you from the real mission – which is emotional connection. Seth Godin
  34. 34. Thank you! Dani Nordin Director UX, athenahealth
  35. 35. Storytelling resources Storytelling for User Experience: Crafting Stories for Better Design By Whitney Quesenbery and Kevin Brooks • Scenarios and Storyboards: Getting to Structure and Flow, Kim Goodwin, Webstock ‘17 • Ethos, Pathos and Logos, pathosethoslogos.com • Kurt Vonnegut Diagrams the Shape of Stories in a Master’s Thesis Rejected by U. Chicago, openculture.org • The 22 rules of storytelling, according to Pixar, Cyriaque Lamar, Gizmodo Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences By Nancy Duarte
  36. 36. Appendix
  37. 37. Basic patterns Explain Persuade Align ELEMENTS Character/Situation > Conflict > Impact Character/Situation > Conflict > Impact > Resolution > Impact Character/Situation > Conflict > Impact > Resolution > Impact TONE Pragmatic, Sympathetic Visionary, Urgent, Sympathetic, Proud Pragmatic, Optimistic, Sympathetic ALTITUDE 5ft - 10k feet 5k-30k feet 5ft-10k feet
  38. 38. The wind was blowing very hard as Pooh neared Piglet’s house. “Happy Windsday, Piglet. I see you’re sweeping leaves.” “Yes, Pooh. But it’s hard. This is a very unfriendly wind.” Just then, a big gust blew Piglet up into the air. Pooh watched in surprise. “Where are you going, Piglet?” “I don’t know, Pooh. Oh dear!” Pooh tried to help, but when he grabbed Piglet’s sweater, it began to unravel! Piglet flew like a kite over the countryside, with Pooh dragging behind. The two went right through Eeyore’s house and Rabbit’s carrot patch. Character Situation Conflict Impact Resolution
  39. 39. Explain Stories that
  40. 40. Characteristics Elements Attitude Altitude Usability issues and Bugs Situation > Conflict > proposed resolution Straightforward, descriptive 5-5k feet, with clear PoV on potential resolution Research Findings Situation > Conflict > Impact Pragmatic, with a clear PoV 5k-10k feet, depending on nature of research Service Blueprints Situation > Conflict > Impact > User-created resolution (i.e. workarounds) Straightforward, with a clear PoV 10k-30k feet, with ability to drill down to lower levels The goal of an Explain story is to help the audience understand the current state of things and why it is so. This provides a frame of reference for future conversations and aids decisionmaking.
  41. 41. Surgical ordering is complex and lacks accelerators - resulting in paper-based workflows. The surgery order is a catalyst for several different activities across both care settings, all of which have their own distinct documents, tasks and orders which belong in the relevant care setting. Proceduralists are comfortable and fast using paper sheets, and hospitals may require specific formats which can not be accommodated within the EHR. Navigating this complexity often results in surgical orders being placed on paper, which are then delegated to support staff to set up across the relevant care settings. Situation Conflict Impact Resolution Impact RESEARCH FINDING 5,000 ft
  42. 42. ETHOS LOGOSPATHOS Emotional Appeal Ethical Appeal Logical Appeal Source: Aristotle
  43. 43. Pitfalls to avoid • Depending too much on statistics/analytics • Getting too deep into the weeds when a higher altitude is needed
  44. 44. Persuade Stories that
  45. 45. Characteristics Elements Attitude Altitude UX Case Studies Resolution > Impact > Situation > Conflict Straightforward, descriptive 5k-10k feet, with clear statement of impact Storyboards Situation > Conflict > Resolution > Impact Pragmatic, descriptive 5k-10k feet, depending on nature of resolution Vision Decks Situation > Conflict > Impact > Resolution > Impact Inspirational, motivating 10k-30k feet, focused on positive future state and rationale for action The goal of a Persuade story is to inspire the audience to act towards creating a better future. Its power lies in making a clear contrast between the current state and a better future and showing the role they play in creating it.
  46. 46. UX CASE STUDY: Unpacking DNFB for Small Hospital Clients I engaged in a comprehensive discovery process to uncover the core problems our clients faced in reducing time in DNFB (Discharged, Not Final Billed). Through research, discussions, and workshops, we aligned the teams on 5 "Hills" that corresponded to the most significant problem areas. The artifacts resulting from this process informed our strategy and planning discussions throughout the next several releases. Why The Claim Readiness zone in athenaCollector focuses on helping revenue cycle clients do the work required—Coding, Charge Entry and Chart Processing/Review—to get claims out the door efficiently. In the Hospital space, part of our charter was to reduce the length of time between patient discharge and a claim being created—also known as DNFB. The factors that go into DNFB are complex and span multiple systems, both human and software. Our product teams needed to understand which of those factors we could make the most impact on. Situation Conflict Resolution Impact 30,000 ft
  47. 47. WHAT IS WHAT IS WHAT IS WHAT IS WHAT COULD BE WHAT COULD BE WHAT COULD BE REWARD! The gap Call to Adventure Call to Action Source: Nancy Duarte, Resonate
  48. 48. When you tell the story about the design of the future experience, the stories are what shape the narrative in the organization. If you can tell a convincing enough story about what the experience should be like, you're going to change minds along the way." Kim Goodwin
  49. 49. Pitfalls to avoid • Focusing in on problems without a clear PoV on potential resolutions • Failing to discuss the impact of the resolution, or the desired action you want the audience to take
  50. 50. Align Stories that
  51. 51. Characteristics Elements Attitude Altitude Problem statements Situation > Conflict > proposed resolution Pragmatic, collaborative 5k-10k feet, with clear PoV on potential resolution Design scenarios Situation > Conflict > proposed resolution Pragmatic 5k-10k feet, focused on capturing main moments Design documentation Situation > Conflict > proposed resolution > Impact Pragmatic, with a clear PoV 5-5k feet, focused on highlighting “new” elements/interactions The goal of an Align story is to capture the mutual understanding of current state, desired state, and next steps across a team. This provides a reference for discussions around the work and intended solution.
  52. 52. Pitfalls to avoid • Not involving teammates from the beginning • Not revisiting/revising the story as the work progresses and new things are learned
  53. 53. User experience includes a wide variety of disciplines, each with its own perspective. Stories bridge the many different languages you bring to your work. By providing tangible examples, stories can provide a common vocabulary for everyone. Whitney Quesenbery & Kevin Brooks

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