UIEtips Article: The Power of Comics for Understanding User Needs

Jared Spool

September 27th, 2007

UIEtips 9/27/07: The Power of Comics for Understanding User Needs

As designs and product visions become more complex, there is an increasing need to find ways that effectively convey just how people will use the product and integrate it into their lives. Recently, more and more organizations and design teams have turned to comics to communicate difficult product and design concepts to large and diverse audiences.

Yesterday, we published a podcast recording of a wonderful chat I had with Yahoo!’s Kevin Cheng. I think Kevin’s work integrating tools like comics into the development process is remarkable. I highly suggest you check out our podcast. In this week’s issue of our email newsletter, UIEtips, we’re publishing an excerpt of my conversation with Kevin. Kevin shared a lot of great information with me and I think you’ll find the conversation enlightening.

Read today’s article with Kevin Cheng.

Is your organization considering the use of comics to convey product concepts? What techniques are you using in your organization to communicate how users interact with your designs? Share your thoughts below.

2 Responses to “UIEtips Article: The Power of Comics for Understanding User Needs

  1. Alan Trow-Poole Says:


    I’ve been using comics for requirements and design for a long time now. They offer great benefits for my clients. They lower the barrier so that mere mortals can enter the world of Information Architecture and User Experience design and understands and offer critical feedback, (I haven’t had many clients do this with Use Case Diagrams yet!). The comic strips I produce are 100% focused on the end-user. They storyboard how a user would/could “interact” and “react” to the proposed design. I try and illustrate as much of the emotional side of the user-experience, (a component still lacking in formal methodologies?) as the user navigates from screen to screen. This really helps understand better the user view, that is, that of looking in from the outside, rather than the designers/developers “broadcast” view, that of looking out from the core out. Comic strips work so well that clients have asked for them, (one for each Persona and primary task). I even feature them in my online portfolio: http://web.mac.com/atrowpoole

    I’d like to explore more animated storyboards, (like they use in film). This way I could add much of what’s happening between the comic-strip cells and for my clients they would just have to watch rather than read..

    Alan Trow-Poole.

  2. Daniel Szuc Says:

    Suggest a nice aspect of this approach is the story the comic tells and getting people to collaborate around it. Much more fun than reading a 50 page specification.

    Looking forward to attend Kevin’s workshop at UI12.

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