Thursday, November 12, 2009

Comic Relief

As part of a project I'm working on, we are going to develop a comic-style collection of user scenarios to help communicate best practices around a security service we are offering. This is just experimental at this stage, mainly doing a concept piece to see 1) will it work and 2) will stakeholders buy into it. The model I am using is Google's Chrome's Googlebook for web app developers.

There can be a number of advantages to using a comic-style treatment:
  • Overcome traditional disinterest in "User Guides"
  • Allow a friendlier, instructive tone
  • Use line illustrations of screen areas to focus user attention on critical details
  • Use "illogical" shifts, such as going from a "white board" type overview to the narrator standing in front of a large UI pointing to an area of interest
  • More easily translated than screen cam tutorials
  • Can be randomly accessed for review purposes (something hard to do with video-based training)
The coolest part, though, is this gives me a legitimate reason to be playing with comic styles while at work and on the clock. How cool is that? Actually, I have a real by-gawd graphic designer assigned to the team, but I need to get more familiar with the genre...yeah, that's the ticket; I'm doing comics at work to get more familiar with the genre. Actually, my next column in UXmatters does deal with how I use comics in an internal Wiki-based status report.

So for a while, Fridays will be "Comic Day" in this blog. Just trying to get immersed in the genre--all work and profession related. I'll try hard not to enjoy myself :-)

3 comments:

Melissa said...

ooo, I'm jealous!

Margaret said...

Mike:
I think using comic illustrations is an excellent tutorial technique. The series of elementary English textbooks used in my parochial school was liberally sprinkled with cartoons, which made fun of the rules and inconsistencies in the English language. I still remember some of them.

I think comics are a great tool for painless information transfer (and why classic comics are probably still popular with high school and college kids who would prefer reading a comic to reading Ivanhoe, for example) .

Meg Miranda said...

Since this idea of tech docs looking like comic books started circulating, I've been wondering how much of the format has been born out of the fact that many of our tech execs learned things through that medium. For examples, see http://www.amarchitrakatha.com/international/index.php.