Digital R&D Fund for the Arts: 5 Design Tools for Your Digital Innovation Projects
Many R&D projects have been using design tools to help them define and refine the scope and the shape of their projects. Here are the five most popular to date:
Personas are profiles of fictional or archetypal people who characterise key users of your project or service. Having 5-7 key personas from different types of target group will allow you to see your project or service from lots of different perspectives. The persona profiles should be fairly detailed and as well as having basic information such as name, age and occupation should also include descriptive information such as likes, dislikes and opinions. They are useful throughout the project development process and especially at key design decisions where they can be used by asking ‘what would Andy, or Mary or Ahmed think?’. While they are very useful on specific projects, some arts organisations use them organisation-wide as part of their audience engagement practice. Find out more about Personas.
2. User Journeys
Sometimes also called customer journey mapping, the purpose of user journeys is to capture your users’ experience of your project on paper. The exercise breaks down the overall project experience step by step by recording interactions with your particular project or service also known as touch-points (e.g. posters, websites, staff, ticketing systems, venues). Importantly user journeys also consider how people feel at each particular stage. User journey mapping can be combined with personas by using them as the user being assessed. Or optimally, journey mapping can be done with live users and what they tell you can give you lots of insights into issues you may not have otherwise been aware of. Find out more about User Journeys.
3. Paper Prototyping
This is the simple practice of creating physical or paper prototypes of your project instead of digital ones. If your project is an app or website, early on in the design process it can be quicker and cheaper to test core concepts and principles using paper prototypes. This is especially the case if you are including users in a co-design process at this early stage. Find out more about Paper Prototyping.
Diaries are a design and research tool in which participants are asked to keep a diary of an aspect of their daily lives and experiences and report this at set times through the day, over a period of time. For example, the Royal Opera House project invited users to log their mobile usage via a tumblr blog. These diaries are also sometimes called Cultural Probes – a wider term for tools through which people are asked to capture parts of their daily lives using a range of media. Find out more about Cultural Probes here.
5. Business Model Canvas
This is a popular template which allows you to map all the various elements of your project on one page – with elements including user types, costs, value proposition, resources and partners. It provides a powerful way to assess the validity of a project and identity any strengths for optimisation and weaknesses for investigation. Find out more about the Business Model Canvas.
Image of paper prototype courtesy of Snook