About the Book
We all tell stories. It’s one of the most natural ways to share information, as old as the human race. This book is not about a new technique, but how to use something we already know in a new way. Stories help us gather and communicate user research, put a human face on analytic data, communicate design ideas, encourage collaboration and innovation, and create a sense of shared history and purpose. This book looks across the full spectrum of user experience design to discover when and how to use stories to improve our products. Whether you are a researcher, designer, analyst or manager, you will find ideas and techniques you can put to use in your practice.
- Need to share research and design insights in a compelling and effective way
- Struggle to communicate the meaning of a large body of data in a way that everyone just “gets”
- Want to explore a new, innovative idea, and imagine its future
… this book can help you, by showing you how and when to choose, create and use stories.
Why is this topic important?
Storytelling is gaining attention as part of the skills of top managers, but (despite some excellent isolated work to understand how stories fit into research and design), no one has yet taken a look at how stories can help user experience practitioners (and even how it could help the field itself mature).
User experience has been a "magpie" field, gathering methods and techniques from many sources and disciplines. Organizationally, user experience professionals need to be able to work with people from many different backgrounds and with many different perspectives. Sitting at the crossroads of ideation and market research on one hand and product development on the other, we need tools to help us persuade and demonstrate the value of our contribution. Stories help us do that.
Most people who apply storytelling to other (non-performance) fields focus on the "why", intrigued by the way stories help us see and understand the world, connecting the events around us to a world view, be it politics, culture, lifestyle, or interface design. On a deeper level, these techniques tap into the universal need to share our story—and to have that story heard by another person. In a computer and technology environment that often seems to either deny or exploit human nature, stories celebrate it.
We start from a few basic assumptions:
- That stories are just as valid as other (scientific and business) styles of communicating. And even that stories are already a natural part of these forms of communicating, but often go overlooked.
- That stories in user experience are not an end, but a useful technique.
- That anyone can create and use stories effectively.
We will focus on the "so what"—looking at the many ways storytelling can be used to help communicate both the tangible and quantitative attributes of user experience and design, as well as the intuitive and qualitative. What we will not do is look at the users of stories in the user interface, especially in games or narrative interfaces. That is a book for another day.
We will look at when stories are most useful and provide practical information on how to create and use stories in many different ways.
It will help the reader better understand how stories help the imagined become real, be it the real of a piece of technology, or the real of a design, or the real of a user need.
Who is this book for?
This book is for any user experience practitioner, whether they are taking their first steps in the field or looking for ways to improve a long practice.
It will also be useful for practitioners in related fields, or those whose practice focuses on a narrow discipline: web designers, usability testers, user researchers and graphic designers.
Managers of all kinds, especially those leading user experience teams and moving into product or corporate strategy, may find both the concepts and techniques useful in shaping their management practice.
Storytellers, especially those with a focus on corporate storytelling, may be interested in this book as an extension of their area of interest and their practice.