Comunicating product concept with comics

Técnica muy eficaz para crear productos y servicios

When to Use Comics
• When you have a new product, version or major feature that requires a lot of exploration and is at its conceptual phase.
• When you need a medium to do sanity checks on the application of the product with stakeholders and with users.
• When you need to tell a story, really quickly, and get the point across quickly such that the documents are read.Properties of comics
• Communication: comics are a universal language, understandable beyond words and spoken language. Think of hieroglyphics.
• Consider symbolism and iconography and how they have a lot of usage within comics. Skull and crossbones either means danger or, in a speech bubble, refers to somebody swearing. A light bulb represents an idea.
• Imagination: you can imagine yourself or a person you know in the role of a character when it is not portrayed in great detail. A smiley face can represent anybody.
• You can also have people imagine the user interface, only revealing the relevant pieces of interface.
• Expression: facial expressions add additional meaning to words being spoken. Just a raised eyebrow here or a frown there can completely adjust the meaning of simple words.
• Body language also conveys a great deal about the speaker or any actor in a story, even when no words are spoken.
• Motion: sequential art, like its namesake, has a sequence and the representation of this sequence represents time. Comics have many ways to show the passage of time.
• Things happening between panels imply the passage of time.
• The number of panels used to show a motion helps convey how long that motion required.
• The length or shape of a panel can influence the perception of time passing. Time passes even in a single panel by virtue of dialog spoken, but can also be represented through multiple copies of the same character in one panel.
• Iteration: For quick, low-fidelity comics, panels and stories should be easily changeable and deliverable for further feedback. How long does it take to draw a new stickman?

Scripting
• Determine scene, actors, actions and dialogue.
• Ask yourself if it matters what city this story takes place? Is it indoors or out? Is it in an office, a home environment or elsewhere? What time of day is the story?
• Determine who your principal actors are. Demographics and such are nice and personas certainly help at this point but remember that vagueness can be a strength.
• Remember that your story may be unrealistic, but if it is, you’ll find out pretty quickly because unlike use cases, these comics are the end product to be shown to people.
• Nevertheless, attempt to write realistic dialogue that’s free of jargon.
• Don’t use captions unless absolutely necessary. Captions for setting changes are acceptable (time or place) but are not for describing actions. Actions should be described by the character either through dialogue or panel art. Captions can easily be used as crutches and when used, the comic becomes little more than a use case with a few pretty pictures.
• These stories are from the perspective of the future user. Speak from their perspective, tell the story from their perspective.
• Dialogue can be represented in multiple forms, experiment with thought bubbles, whispering and yelling.
• Choose the important stories to tell. It’s more work to draw comics than write a few lines so that will force you to choose only the truly important use cases to explore.
• Aim for 5-8 panels per comic.

Storyboarding
• While storyboarding, play with camera angles and perspectives but always remember what emotion and story you’re trying to convey first and foremost.
• Consider using an establishing camera shot to show where the characters are. High angle shots can be used to show both character interaction and their setting at the same time.
• Close up shots are more dramatic and puts the reader right into the character. Almost as if they’re being confronted.
• Lower angle shots give the reader the distinct impression of “being there”.
• Utilize the 12 Panels That Always Work to help ease the monotony of telling a story that revolves around one computer.
• Remember the flow of comics: left to right, then top to bottom.
• Comics convey motion, make sure to storyboard with the consideration of how to show the passage of time.
• Try including panels with no dialog to show pauses in a story.
• To change scenes, you may want interstitial panels or a caption explaining the sudden transition in location.
• Draw in thumbnail size with stickmen to help determine what may or may not work for the flow of the story.
Drawing the Comic
• Trace. Trace. Trace. No matter what tools you have available to you, tracing can be one of the best things to do.
• Less detail is better, otherwise you’d just use photographs.
• Sometimes, drawing more detail in the background and less for the person helps the person point out more.
• Make use of, but don’t rely on, photographs, avatar programs, etc.
• Use the Tarquin Engine to compact your comic and have it easily portable to any platform or machine wit ha web browser.
• Practice!
• Remember body language and motion as you draw.

User Studies
• Print out the comics in large format paper to permit users to markup the comic. If that’s not possible, print each panel on a piece of paper and assemble them by hand.
• Have the user read it once through themselves, giving ample time, then have them explain the story to you in their own words.
• Allow the users to write their feedback directly on the comic in any format they wish.some may draw directly on the comic, some might draw new diagrams, others may write commentary or circle parts of the comic.
• Supply four highlighters, representing Appealing, Useful, Confusing and Complicated. The highlighters give the users a method to express their feedback.
• See which stories, if any, resonate with the user the most. Perhaps they can talk about their own experiences or a friend’s experience that could have been improved by the story expressed in the comic.
• Make sure you give yourself plenty of time both to run the session and to rest! Running these sessions is not an easy task and can be very draining.
• Have observers put up post-its under the relevant panels of another copy of the comic to
create an on-the-fly affinity map

Links relacionados
http://blogs.sun.com/MartinHardee/entry/design_comics_templates_1_0
http://www.180360720.no/index.php/archive/prototyping-services-with-storytelling/
http://www.stevedenning.com/SIN-144-IDEO-design-and-storytelling.html
Service design  http://ciid.dk/speaker-bill-moggridge
http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/comics-not-just-for#comment_8182
http://kevnull.com/creating-concepts-through-comics

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