Stage 4: Ideation and Sketching

(This post is part of an end-to-end UX design project.)

In my last post I analyzed the user needs of tabletop RPG game masters with regards to finding, adapting, and keeping track of pre-made adventures.

In this post, I will ideate and create some sketches of a potential solution.

Ideation

Ideation is the rapid generation of ideas within a particular context. At this stage, ideas are inexpensive to consider and the focus is on quantity and deferred judgment. Outlandish, implausible ideas at this stage may seed great novel solutions at the next.

The job stories we generated for game masters do not presuppose a particular solution, and ideation allows me to explore some of the user needs I uncovered and seed a viable idea pool while the cost of doing so is low.

I followed the Google Ventures design sprint process to compete two rounds of Crazy 8’s: getting eight rough ideas in 5 minutes. The pace of generation and the use of ink instead of pencil discourages refinement and premature evaluation.

Once the two rounds of ideation are complete, it is time to consider the ideas in more depth and combine them into proposed solutions.

A few ideas that stood out:

A browsing view (akin to dating app Tinder) in which a single piece of content is shown on its own and considered by the user.
Linking adventures to other popular media (e.g., film plots or tropes)
A spatial arrangement for saved content. Visuospatial memory is extremely powerful.
Archiving and notes

Initial Sketching

The purpose of a UX design sketch is to illustrate a potential idea in very rough terms and invite discussion. Unlike a prototype, which invites critique and seeks to have its shortcomings corrected, a sketch is by definition imperfect and instead invites discussion and iteration on its proposals.

Source: Sketching User Experience by Bill Buxton

Sketches are not necessarily interactive, and nothing depicted in them is set in stone. To quickly create a sketch for this interface, I used an online UX mockup tool called Moqups.

I wanted to capture the feel of browsing for inspiration that websites like Pinterest cultivate, so I made an inspiration board that contains a random assortment of adventures, plot hooks, and creatures:

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Adventures appear in a scroll, with some high-level details for each. Note the user rating and the ability to star/save an adventure.

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On the adventure details page, I envision four areas:

  • One for the official, immutable details on the adventure
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  • One for a user’s private notes, including whether the user has actually run and completed the adventure. This may unlock additional functionality or give the user more credibility.
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  • One for the adventure paths and campaigns this adventure belongs to (some of which may be user-generated)
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  • One for the social elements of the adventure: ratings, reviews, shared notes by others, and question/answer pairs
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In my next post, I implement these ideas into an interactive prototype and solicit reactions from the community.

I am a UX professional, a trained qualitative researcher, and a seasoned lecturer in HCI and computer science.

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