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Design games for information architecture

Design games for information architecture

Would you like your design team to collaborate better? Are you looking to gather more valuable insights from your focus groups and interviews?

Design games are a fun, technology-neutral way of gathering design insights for your projects. In this presentation, I will show you how to take advantage of design games in many situations, with all types of people, including:

Freelisting, modified card sorting and scavenger hunts: To learn about
your users language and categories
Design the Home page and Divide-the-Dollar: To identify and prioritise functions and features
Reverse-it and Idea cards: To break a creative block and generate ideas
I have played all these games and more with users, stakeholders and design teams, so this presentation will be based on my experience organizing games and making sure they provide useful inputs to the design process.

In this presentation I will focus on games and tips most applicable to IA projects.

Donna Spencer

March 21, 2009
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  1. Design games for IA Donna Spencer Maadmob

  2. About me • Information architect & interaction designer  Big,

    messy projects  Websites, intranets, business applications  9 years + • Mentor • Trainer • Writing a book about card sorting – at the printer  New mini e‐book on web content writing just started • I love having fun at work! • Acknowledgements: Jess McMullin & Karen Loasby
  3. What is a design game?

  4. What is a design game? • A design game is

    a fun activity played by a small team and used to provide input to a design problem. • Design games can involve users of a product, a project team, stakeholders, or even management. • The most important aspect of design games is that they are fun! They involve play to promote creativity and idea generation. • Design games are also hands‐on. They are not about talking about an idea, but about creating it. As such, our insights and learning happen from the playing of the game, not talking about the issue. • They provide something useful. I'm not talking about silly filling‐in‐time activities that you are made do at training or planning days. Design games should always provide something that you can use for a project. Design games may provide outputs like:  useful insights for a problem  prioritised lists of features  ideas for terminology  an understanding of how people think differently • Design games are planned and structured. They are not just about getting people in one place to work on a design. They have a goal and are planned so that goal is met.
  5. Design games Why play design games?

  6. Why play design games? • Design games are fun. When

    we have fun we think better, think more practically, and can be more creative. I know that I'd rather play a design game than sit in another endless meeting talking about potential functionality or talking about a design rather than creating it. Guess what ‐ our users & stakeholders would like to as well. • Design games are a great way to get real involvement in, and commitment to, a project. When a team works together on something they create a shared space and a shared commitment. They are actively involved. When you compare that to a more common approach where one person creates something and demonstrates it to others to 'get their feedback' you can see the opportunity for dramatic difference in real involvement. • Design games are also very good ways to communicate. Many of the games involve sketching, writing & drawing. These provide much clearer representations of an idea than talking about it. A team playing a design game as part of their process, or a researcher watching users playing a game, will have a clearer idea of what they actually agreed on.
  7. Design games The games

  8. The games • In the games that follow, there are

    three types  games that have been around for a while as design games  existing techniques that can easily work as a game  made up for a particular purpose.
  9. Games to play with users

  10. Design the home page

  11. Design the home page Outcome Key features Who End users,

    stakeholders, design team Description Participants design the home page for a website, intranet or application. By doing so, they identify key features and content ideas. The idea isn’t to do the visual design or even have it look like a home page. The idea is for people to identify the main things they would like on a home page, and then make a ‘sketch’ representing the ideas. When they are finished, ask participants to explain what they have included and why. You can use the home pages to identify key content chunks and priority information – it’s surprising how easy it is to spot consistent issues and ideas. Preparation Coloured paper and markers
  12. Design games Divide the dollar Feature Amount Reason Feature 1

    Feature 2 Feature 3 Feature 4 Feature 5
  13. Divide the dollar Outcome Prioritised list of features Who End

    users, stakeholders, design team Description Participants are provided with a list of features (they may have come up with them in a previous game) and $100 to ‘spend’. They distribute the money across the features according to how important those features are and explain why they have divided their money in this way. Preparation Feature list You can provide pretend money, or just tell them they have $100 points to split across the features. Reference Online version of this game: http://www.themindcanvas.com/how-it- works/research-methods/
  14. Metadata games

  15. Metadata games • Beer cooler • Stubby holder • Stubbie

    holder • Coldie holder • Coozie (USA)
  16. Freelisting • Dalmatian • Chihuahua • Miniature foxy • Kelpie

    • Great Dane • Bulldog • Sausage dog • German shepherd • Irish setter • Greyhound • Beagle • Golden retriever • Poodle • Spoodle • Cocker spaniel
  17. Freelisting Outcome Keywords, terminology Who End users, design team Description

    For a particular topic, participants have to name as many of ‘x’ as they can. This is a fairly common brainstorming method. Make it fun by introducing competition between teams, a tight deadline and prizes for the most items. Very good for getting an understanding knowledge & experience of users. Preparation Almost none – just a topic you would like to explore Reference How to use free-listing to explore a domain. http://www.uzanto.com/2005/11/12/freelisting-explore-domain/
  18. Freelisting • Pilsener • Stout • Porter • Lager •

    Harvest • Octoberfest • Bitter • Mild • Lawnmower • Hefeweisen • Kriek • Lambic • Trappist • Double • Tripel • Russian imperial ale Ale Dark
  19. Design games Card sorting

  20. Card sorting Outcome Categories and language Who Users, design team

    Description In a card sort participants create groups of content ideas in ways that make sense to them, and label the groups they generate. We can gain an idea of how they think about categories and ideas for labelling. Make this more game-like by: -Ensure the content is fun to work with -Impose a time limit or have teams compete to finish fastest Preparation Same as a normal card sort Reference Card sorting: http://www.boxesandarrows.com/view/card_sorting_a_definitive_guide Photo from http://flickr.com/photos/lloydy/151733945/
  21. Games for design teams

  22. Idea cards

  23. Idea cards Audience Integrity Travel Difficult Risk Images Personality Impersonal

    Visibility Simple Identity Rigid Constraints Colour Pain Complex Repetition Listen Error Compelling Data Sunshine Quiet Familiar
  24. Idea cards Outcome Generate ideas for products, features or a

    problem Who Design team Description Participants choose three cards from a deck and use the words on the cards to come generate ideas for a design issue. Cards contain a wide range of simple words such as: Audience Integrity Travel Difficult Risk Images Personality Impersonal Visibility Simplicity Identity Rigid Constraints Colour Pain Complex Repetition Listen Error Compelling Attitude Contrast Quiet Familiar The card deck can be a single deck or three separate decks (one with emotions, one with adjectives and one with challenging words) Preparation Cards: hand write index cards or print on perforated sheets.
  25. Design games Reversal

  26. Reversal Outcome Idea generation, looking at something in a new

    way Who Design team Description Ask the opposite of the question you want to ask (this can be in the form of a scenario). Use the ‘anti-answers’ to look at the problem in a different way. e.g. “How would we reduce sales?”, “how would we cause this problem?” Make this more game-like by: -make sure that the opposite questions are more extreme than you would otherwise do -Encourage fast responses & a volume of ideas Preparation Questions you want to answer, and a reversed version
  27. Reversal Going through airport security is always painful. In small

    groups, discuss how the experience could be made worse…
  28. Planning design games

  29. Design games Planning

  30. Planning design games • Design games require careful planning –

    more than a brainstorming session, user feedback or other less creative method. • The first, and most important element to planning, is to determine what outcome you want from the session, before choosing a game or activity to use. You can then select a game and approach that will help you learn what you need. • Other aspects to think about before when you are thinking about how to run the game include:  How do you expect the game to run, end‐to‐end?  What will the rules, or constraints be?  What are the actual outputs you expect?  How will you ensure everyone is able to be involved?  Will the game be competitive? How & what happens to ‘winners’ & ‘losers’  How will you make sure it doesn’t feel like a waste of time?
  31. Design games Planning

  32. Creating new games • Existing methods and activities that we

    can make more game‐like include idea‐generation, brainstorming and training games. • To make an existing activity more game‐like:  Introducing something fun or silly just to make it less serious  Add a deadline to put a bit of pressure on  Add an element of friendly competition  Award prizes • You can also create games from scratch, thinking about what you would like to learn and using any of the approaches here, or something else you have done, to make up a game. The main thing is to keep it light‐hearted and fun.
  33. None
  34. Preparing instructions • Then there are the practical logistics of

    getting ready for the game. A lot of this preparation involves making or assembling props, and writing instructions. • Instructions should describe:  the purpose of the game  what steps people should take to work through the game  the outcome you expect (examples are great and really help participants to know what they are heading for)
  35. Resources • Charette: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charrette • Game Changing: How You Can

    Transform Client Mindsets Through Play: http://www.iasummit.org/2006/conferencedescrip.htm#137 • Designing Exploratory Design Games ‐ a framework for participation in participatory design? Eva Brandt. Proceedings Participatory Design Conference 2006. • Facilitating Collaboration through Design Games. Eva Brandt and Jörn Messeter. Proceedings Participatory Design Conference 2004. • Inspiration Card Workshops. Kim Halskov, Peter Dalsgård. DIS 2006. • Mind tools. http://www.mindtools.com/index.html • Product reaction cards. Microsoft. http://www.microsoft.com/usability/UEPostings/ProductReactionCards.doc • Training games: http://www.thiagi.com/games.html • http://del.icio.us/donnam/design_games
  36. Questions & thanks • maadmob.com.au • designgames.com.au • +61 409‐778‐693

    • donna@maadmob.net • Twitter etc: maadonna