Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Full-day Seminar, 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Kevin Cheng

Communicating Product Concepts with Comics

Kevin Cheng, Yahoo!

Do you have difficulty successfully communicating concepts for products and new features? Are you looking for a new way to rally your stakeholders and team around a shared vision for your product?

As projects become more and more complex, it becomes crucial to provide stakeholders with approachable and easy to digest design concepts. Many of our clients face this challenge. For example:

  • The developers at a large communications firm are working to integrate hundreds of individually designed sub-sites into one common web strategy. But the stakeholders still need to be convinced of the benefits of a consistent online user experience. The developers must choose the best method to quickly communicate and clearly convey core concepts to their audience.

Many teams try to use requirements documents, personas, user scenarios, and storyboards to define concepts and to understand how people will use a feature or integrate a design into their life. However, these tools often yield unsatisfactory and suboptimal results. They suffer from being ignored after their creation, interpreted differently by everyone who uses them, and focus on the interface instead of the user's actual experience.

At Yahoo!, Kevin Cheng has been experimenting with using comics as a technique for communicating the core concepts behind a design's intended user experience. In his full-day seminar for UI12, Kevin will share how this technique has worked well to get teams informed and on the same page, without fixating on interface details too early in the project. He'll demonstrate an in-depth walkthrough of his process and the advantages he's found using comics over other methods.

You'll learn:

  • How to create your own comics and convey useful narratives. Even if you’re not an artist and feel you can’t draw, Kevin will show you how to use previously generated facial expressions, photos, or avatars, and tracing.
  • 5 inherent properties of comics (communication, imagination, expression, motion, and iteration.) If understood, they can help people use comics to their full potential when communicating a vision.
  • How comics can be used to convey subtleties of timing and emphasis. Kevin will show you how to use icons and art to help people relate to the characters and focus on the concepts instead of minute details.
  • How to use comics to convey the multiple paths and scenarios in your vision for your intended user experience.
  • The portability of comics. You will see how you can use Flash to create a portable, distributable version of your comics that can be easily consumed online by remote stakeholders.
  • The limitations and challenges to consider when using comics. Kevin will discuss the delicate balance of presenting sufficient interface elements to instill discussion, but not so much as to distract from the overall concept.
  • How to get buy-in from management to begin using comics in the product development process.

Kevin will also provide detailed examples of the comics he and others have created.

Who Should Attend

This seminar is appropriate for all members of the development team, project managers, strategists, and user experience professionals wishing to learn a new technique to help get teams and stakeholders informed and on the same page.

UI12 Seminar Recommendations: If you're interested in Kevin's full-day seminar, you may also want to attend Luke Wroblewski's seminar on Visual Design or Rolf Molich's seminar on Usability Testing.