I recently listened to a radio interview with author Julian Gough, about his latest children’s book, Rabbit’s Bad Habits. Mr. Gough talked about how the book evolved from a bedtime story for his 6 year old daughter Sophie, into a successful novel.
While I’m sure this is not the first time that a children’s novel has evolved from a bedtime story, Mr. Gough’s method was interesting and could well have been a story about UX design.
Like most parents, when my own children were young I would read them stories at bedtime. Sometimes — usually when I was too lazy to look for a book — I would make up stories out of my head and relate them to something in the childrens’ life. One of these stories, which had been started by their dad, was about a cat that climbed into our car unbeknownst to us and ended up in the child’s classroom only to wreak havoc throughout the school day.
The ‘Bold Pussycat’ story quickly became the favourite and most popular bedtime story. As it was told and re-told they remembered everything that happened and were very quick to point out when you got it wrong! Or if the story became too repetitive they pitched in with their own suggestions so that it evolved into a much more exciting story to which they contributed.
Unlike me, Mr. Gough had the good sense to write down his bedtime story and with his daughter’s input, became inspired to write Rabbit’s Bad Habits practically overnight.
He involved his daughter throughout the editing process, observed her body language when reading, listened to her suggestions and fed them back into the story. The result is a successful children’s novel with 5 star rave reviews from young readers.
By observing his daughter reading his stories, Mr. Gough was conducting his own Ethnographic study which helped him to produce a better result.
If you are interested in finding out more about Ethnographic Research and how it’s used in UX Design to uncover users’ goals and produce better products, here are some interesting articles to get you started.
Photo: John Applegate