Bridging the Gap: Scenario-Based Design as a Solution for Delayed Access To Users

Mr. Paul Haimes, Dr. Jo Jung & Dr. Stuart Medley
2012 Conference

Scenario-based design (Carroll & Rosson, 2002) is a Human-Computer Interaction methodology for considering the needs of potential users, without their direct input. Scenario-based design gives the interface designer the ability to create scenarios of use, along with postulations on the various types of users, expressed in the form of personas (Grudin & Pruitt, 2002). These scenarios and personas can be useful in the context of a design project, where real world issues preclude the direct involvement of users at a critical stage. By ‘walking through’ informal narrative descriptions in the form of a story, scenario-based design focuses on human activity rather than technology.

We propose that scenario-based design can be utilised to fill gaps in a collaborative project, where, due to circumstances beyond the control of the designer, other parties have not provided vital information before the prototyping stage. Scenario-based design can allow us, as designers, to consider the needs of our potential users when circumstances mean that we would not otherwise be able to.

While different disciplines utilise proprietary project management methods, scenario-based design bridges gaps between practice-specific epistemologies, allowing contributions from different fields to feed the project at any stage of its progress. This paper details our early reflections as designers working on an ARC Linking Grant-funded, interdisciplinary project to redesign a bushfire warning website. We explain that scenario-based design can act as a catalyst, to ‘kick-start’ a project where, due to various factors, timing or resources means that direct contact with users is not always possible.

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About the author

Paul Haimes is a Master of Communications (by research) student at Edith Cowan University. He has a Postgraduate Diploma in Creative industries, specialising in Interactive Media Development. He also has over 10 years of experience in Information Technology and Multimedia, working for both the public and private sectors.

Dr Jo Jung is the coordinator of Interactive Media at the School of Communications & Arts (SCA) at Edith Cowan University. Her research interest is in the field of human-computer interaction ­ in particular, graphical user interface (GUI) design approaches to improve the quality of user experience. Jo completed her PhD in 2007 at Curtin University and the research topic was on socio-emotional UI design strategies, which adapted human behaviours and emotions to develop a set of design guidelines. Jo has presented research at international conferences including 2005 British HCI group annual conference in Scotland and 2009 Design & Emotion conference in Hong Kong.

Dr Stuart Medley is an award-winning designer and illustrator. His illustrations and comics have been published internationally, and are in the Michael Hill Collection at the Australian National Library. He is a senior lecturer at Edith Cowan University, and has presented research at international conferences including TypoGraphic2005, Lebanon, and the NewViews 2008 conference at the LCC in London. His book, The Picture in Design, describing ways for the graphic design discipline to understand and evaluate images, will be published in late 2012.