Wednesday, April 14, 2010

CHI 2010, Day Two

Wow, time is running ...

As already said, yesterday I attended the course "Storyboarding for designers and design researchers". It was just great. But storyboarding? Isn't that the thing used for making movies? Doesn't it look like comic strips? What is it for?

Basically, storyboarding is a tool to share and idea within an interdisciplinary team. Okay, we assume that if you want to build a good solution for a complex problem, then this requires people being experts in different areas (e.g. our I-Teams). But that doesn't necessarily mean that they understand each other - each domain has a different language, a different understanding of things. (Ever watched a discussion between a psychologist or cognitive scientists with a computer science guy? Sometimes like being in a cabaret show.)

One proposed solution is storyboarding: a graphical way to look at the problems of one or more persons. It may look similar to a comic strip which explains situations and how the new "thing" (whatever it will be) has (a good) impact on the life of the user. It is not about discussing the final product ... it is about to get an understanding what the problem is about. To be absolutely clear: It is not about drawing comics! There are important rules which make it work ... or completely fail. End of disclaimer :-)

In my day job, we started using storyboarding with the help of a colleague with great design skills. Working in another department, we can rarely ask him to help us ... but the solution is so simple: Act with a group of people, take pictures, and add the things you need by simply drawing them.

We have been told to work out a remote control for several people watching TV. I proposed to consider the place restaurant, because I am sometimes a bit annoyed by all the TVs showing up here (yesterday, "our" restaurant had about 15 TVs running .... grrr). Other people decided to go for a family home, the gym, public places, ... We planned our scene and acted accordingly. After the planning, the simple "doing" took not more than 30 minutes - including enhancing the scenes by objects and adding sub-titles etc.

Here is the result...

You see that the tables, the TV and some other items are simply drawn. After showing that to other people, nobody had any question with regard to understandability ... which means that our team (Thank you members!) did rather well. Here is a picture of the teams showing their results ...

So is this something for Sometimes yes, sometimes not. I think, if we go for more "unknown" topics like advanced collaboration and use of documents in (more) daily life, this could be something to consider. It worked very well - and providea information visually instead of having a lot of detailed text (which is sometimes mandatory).

The rest of the day is less important to you, I think. Except that I have been able to talk with Paula Bach (from Microsoft) who was one of the organizers of the FLOSS usability workshop I've talked about yesterday. Unfortunately, we had only a few minutes, but it is really nice. She told me that she will give a talk with some references to If possible, I'll try to attend ...

The rest of the evening was spent with my colleague ... in the cinema. The media-showcase, where people showed their new solutions in short films. Hey, and the conference team provided popcorn ... this is how learning new things should work all the time ;-)

When I went home, I've met another guy staying in the same hotel. Okay, another two hours of intensive and funny talk. He turned out to be a usability professional for software APIs. I am not kidding ... he is a researcher/consultant to make software programming as efficient as possible. Interesting ...

That's it for today! As usual, I have to hurry up :-)


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