Nielsen, L. From user to character – an investigation into user-descriptions in scenarios. DIS2002. pp. 99-104.

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Nielsen reports an analysis of user descriptions in Cooper’s and Caroll’s scenarios. The analysis reveals the user accounts in user-centred design to be very flat and even naive. As a solution to this problem, Nielsen suggests studying the way people are depicted in movie scripts. The article includes many interesting examples of movie-scriptwriting approaches towards character building. For example aiming for more rounded characters (instead of current flat ones) by seeing character as personage which development creates the story development, and giving characters multiple voices that interact with and against each other and create more realistic description of a person.

Nielsen thinks that scriptwriting would be a good basis for writing user-centred design’s scenarios, since they share the same motivation, i.e. describe people and their activities in such a manner that it becomes clear how and why they act the way they do. Another interesting aspect of scriptwriting is that it is focused on visible actions. Many of the scriptwriting rules explicitly forbid to write down anything that is not visual (e.g. happy vs. smiling). This forced ‘visualization’ is interesting theme and it would be interesting to see how scriptwriting guides handle experiences in general. Would scriptwriting inspired user descriptions result to products that instead of aiming for joy of success would try to just make the user to smile?

Posted by Petri

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