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IBM Cambridge Research Center

  Project: Story-Based Design

Researchers: Dan Gruen, Paul Moody
Contact: Dan_Gruen@us.ibm.com

A Collaborative User Experience Project:

Story-Based design is a multi-tasking design methodology that uses stories to inspire innovation and facilitate design and product transfers. We use it to anticipate and meet the design challenges of future Lotus products. Making the value of a product compelling to potential users means not only maintaining a consistent vision of that value, but also enhancing and detailing it throughout the design process.

The Story-Based design method was developed by CUE in response to designers' search for ways to:

  • Ensure a new design concept will deliver value to the people who will use it.
  • Ensure a product fits the way people really live and work.
  • Capture the complexity of the real world, and package it in a way that designers and engineers can use.
  • Predict the way complex technologies will mesh with people's lives.
  • Help users map new technologies to their own activities.
By encouraging detailed immersion in the setting in which the product will be used, the Story-Based design method inspires innovation. The technique also helps potential users imagine themselves using the product and allows them to more fully understand its value. In addition, Story-Based design provides a reality check for usability. Because of its many uses, Story-Based design makes available to software designers a tool that is increasingly important given the density of the software market: compelling storytelling. We are working to make this method useful to others by accumulating a StoryBase that will serve as a central point for creating and sharing design stories.