Act it Out

see Section 5.5 Scenarios, page 202

Reading a scenario can be helpful, as can talking through a user's activities in an interview. However, sometimes physically acting things out adds an extra dimension.

The Pensions Printout case study is an example of this, the head of the pensions department was only able to fully describe what he did with an annual printout when in his own office and able to act out the process with the filing drawers there.

Chapter 5 gives another example (p.202) – the internet-enabled Swiss Army Knife.

The scenario comes orginally from a teaching session with masters students. I was encouraging them to think of just-over-the-horizon device ideas in order to explore novel interaction potential. As an exmaple I reached into my bag and found my Swiss Army Knife – what would an Internet-enabled Swiss Army Knife be like?

Although it was a random example, the potential soon became clear. Swiss Army Knife users seem an obvious target for hi-tech devices: they clearly like gadgets and will talk endlessly about the different uses of the odd blades. My own favourite is using the toothpick to open cable ties so that they can be reused.

We talked through how this could play out in a form of social media sharing tips using online forums, but then having a tiny LCD screen on the knife itself and using the toothpick as a stylus (avoiding fat-finger problems).

screen on Swiss Army Knife

So far so good.

However, then I started to act it out:

  • interacting with the toothpick on the tiny screen (my eye sight was good)
  • finding a tip about using one of the odd blades to do something
  • opening the blade
  • holding the blade towards a screw
  • ... but then, as I was about to try to read the next instruction ...
  • I realised my thumb was over the screen - oops

Swiss rmy Knife thumb across screen


Alan Dix © 2017