Changing the process: design through scenario
See this post in its natural habitat here: http://projectmodai.tarng.com
I’ve been having a hard time wireframing the UI because a mobile device UI has so many potential uses that it’s mind boggling to wireframe all its potential uses on my own.
Then I remembered that the whole point of Modai is to explore the future of mobile devices through a scenario based on the user Hunter Lee (read more about him here). Here is a rough outline of the scenario, titled A Day with Modai:
A Day with Modai
8:10 AM: Hunter’s alarm goes off. Modai tries to get him up with a different alarm than yesterday (to prevent him getting used to it). Hunter shakes Modai to snooze.
8:15 AM: Modai tries again to wake Hunter, this time with a louder, and more upbeat song. It also decides to throw in some vibration. Hunter shakes Modai harder to snooze.
8:20 AM: Modai has finally had it. It pulls out the big guns, and turns the volume and vibration to 11, and also turns on Hunter’s laptop and speakers. Hunter finally groggily wakes up and starts to interact with Modai to show it he’s awake (no turning off and falling back asleep here!)
8:21 AM: Hunter checks his email first, hopeful to see if his classes were canceled (although it never is). He switches Modai to Professional paradigm [Prodai] to see his work-related mails and updates. He quickly scrolls through the headlines/previews in the Mail frame, and to his dismay, there are no emails about class. He checks the weather so he knows what to wear. It’s sunny. He goes to get ready for class.
8:29 AM: Hunter is running late for class. While standing at the bus station, he pulls out Modai to check the time (without pressing anything). He unlocks the phone. Modai knows he’s at the bus stop via geolocation, so Modai Googles the bus schedule. It’s coming in 3 minutes. Hunter takes a seat and checks his Fun paradigm [Fundai] He then updates/tweets a status that he’s waiting for the bus.
8:36 AM: Hunter gets into morning studio. The professor is walking around. He places Modai on the desk. Modai knows his schedule and that he’s in class right now, it silences itself and turns off 3G and Wifi to save battery (metaphor: old antennas).
9:10 AM: The professor introduces a new group project. Hunter meets with his new group, and asks Modai to start a new project in the organizer. He enters in the group members and deadlines.
10:20 AM: Group meeting time. Hunter saw some architecture that was inspiring during the weekend that he took pictures of. He takes Modai and bumps it with his groupmate’s mobiles (also Modai?) to sync his photos.
11:15 AM: The group sets up an out of class meeting time. Hunter pulls out Modai and adds a new meeting in his organizer and syncs with his groupmates. They also assign tasks, so Hunter also enters a new task to do by tonight.
11:34 AM: Hunter is hungry. Modai’s learnt that he usually gets hungry on Thursdays around this time, so it surfaces the school’s dining Twitter when he pulls out his phone so he knows what’s on the menu. (or a menu app?)
11:47 AM: Hunter got his food and is eating in the cafeteria. He is by himself so he pulls out Modai and sets it up to read some RSS. He is happy and enjoying solitude.
11:49 AM: Hunter’s friends find him and join him to eat. Modai senses the other people and goes into its shy mode to not intrude on human interaction. (or maybe his friends come and Hunter wants to continue his solitude so Modai ambiently shows his desire to be alone)
12:52 PM: Hunter goes to studio and procrastinates by checking Facebook on his phone.
1:00 PM: Hunter has homework due at 1:30PM, and it’s still on his to-do list. Modai notices this and starts to warn Hunter (who’s still on [Fundai]) of the impending deadline. He immediately starts to work.
1:15 PM: Modai’s warning gets more intense.
1:25 PM: Hunter finally finishes and turns in the homework. He proceeds to mark the task as done, feeling great. Modai congratulates Hunter on a job well done.
1:27 PM: Hunter decides to start working on his group project. He checks the to-do list to see what he needs to do. He needs to so some sketches based off of his group’s research. Modai surfaces the email (or Gdoc) that has the group research. He starts working.
1:41 PM: Hunter gets a text from this girl he likes, Haley, while he’s working. Modai signals this physically without turning on the UI. Hunter notices and checks the text and responds to it. He wants to show his studio space so he takes a picture and sends it off.
2:11 PM: Modai’s running low on batteries. It signals Hunter that it needs juice. Hunter plugs him in.
2:10 PM: Modai alerts Hunter that he has a meeting at 2:30 PM. It’s learnt that Hunter takes 10 minutes to pack up at studio, so it warns him 20 minutes in advance for the 10 minute trip to the meeting.
2:31 PM: Hunter arrives at the meeting, Modai surfaces notes to take notes.
2:36 PM: Hunter receives a call during the meeting. Modai signals quietly that Hunter should pick up his phone, but it is not an urgent call. Hunter ignores the call.
4:30 PM: Hunter walks to the bus stop. He puts on his favorite music while he looks through Twitter.
4:50 PM: Hunter arrives at home. Modai turns on his lights. He goes to his fridge and uses Modai to check if anything needs to be replenished. Modai notices he’s low on eggs. He adds eggs to his shopping list.
5:10 PM: The mailman comes. It’s Hunter’s new hardware for Modai! Installs it, and mails the old parts back.
6:20 PM: Hunter gets an email from his groupmate. Since Modai knows Hunter is in a group, it notifies about the email even though it doesn’t with others. Hunter checks the email which asks Hunter to send them his sketches. Hunter photographs them as a part of the project, and Modai automagically sends them off.
8:10 PM: Hunter goes grocery shopping. Modai detects he’s in a store and shows his financial info. He’s close to his monthly limit. Hunter pays for the eggs he needs to buy with Modai.
8:30 PM: Hunter gets back and starts working. He knows it’ll be a long night, so he wants to manage his time better, so he asks Modai [Prodai] to manage what he’s spending his time on.
10:00 PM: Hunter’s been working for a while. Modai suggests a break.
1:30 AM: Hunter wraps up his work for the night. He reviews his time usage while working today. He sees that he’s spent at least 25% of his time tonight on Facebook and Twitter. Now he’s aware of this and vows to cut down.
1:45AM: Modai hints at Hunter to turn in for the night. If Hunter sleeps in 5 minutes he’ll be refreshed when he wakes at 7:50AM (sleeping cycles) for his 8:30 class (Modai increases the estimated time he’ll take to get to class based on earlier today). Modai knows Hunter won’t wake up if he stays up later. Hunter accepts the alarm set by Modai, and goes to sleep.
I will take this outline and start to storyboard it, deciding what screens of the UI need to be shown at what stage as well as the physical interactions. This is in place of an insanely complex wireframe. I’ll be checking back on this constantly to revise the scenario as I develop Modai.