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Improv for designing user experience… towards a proof?

Published on August 10, 2012 by in Demos

I’ve been interested since a while in designing mobile car-sharing systems. Use your mobile phone to smartly arrange someone to pick you up in point A and get you in point B. Over 2 years, I’ve had 8 teams of 5 students (Master 1 and 2) thinking about this. And they showed creativity, I was proud of what they did. I used  improv’ with them, but only as team building in the beginning of the course cycle.

Recently, in CAISE’12 and during a course on “Privacy By Design” in Leuven University, I was given 90 minutes to help some teams come up with ideas for such a system. Those teams had never met before, never worked together, certainly not on the system under consideration. I thought they would never come close to what my students did in many hours of brainstorming…

But anyway I had them do some improv’ exercises, then really improvise. The trick was I told them that, in all improvisations, one or more of the characters had to have and use the system we want to produce ideas for. So, “imagine you have it, let’s see how you use it, what stories does it create?”. And I gave them topics like “my kid is sick”, or “I want to party tonight”.

Well, in a very short time they came with ideas that I never saw in student’s work. The discussions were rich, broad in the covered scope, and sometimes amazingly precise in terms of user experience. They also navigated from experience to how it could be realized by technology, which is certainly a desired effect, bridging technology and needs… I paste here (Caise 2012 – Gdansk) a mind map representing one of these sessions… Probably it only talks to people who were there… Anyway, a mind map is always beautiful and it makes my blog look clever and trendy.


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One Response

  1. Ye, I agree with you. Design is developed by mind map. So, I must use this tips also. Thankyou

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