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Kevin Cheng  

Storytelling Techniques Workshop

February 3rd, 2006 by Kevin Cheng :: 5 Comments

As I mentioned in a look at this year’s [conferences][1] I’m speaking with some coworkers of mine at the upcoming [IA Summit][2] in Vancouver. What am I speaking on? Why, comics of course. Why comics?

Anyone who has seen [Jeff Veen][3] present can tell you that aside from having a great stage presence (both literally and figuratively) know that a great part of his strength is his ability to tell stories. Telling stories is such a key part of design but it is completely under rated. We create personas, scenarios, storyboards and presentations all for the purposes of telling a story and conveying some concepts - to the internal team and to the external audience.

Although comics are just a specialized form of storyboards, there is a great deal of depth in the language that can be harnessed for the purposes of informing and communicating design. At the IA Summit conference session, “[Communicating Concepts through Comics][4]”, we’re going to talk about some of these strengths and what we did. Even better, I’m pleased to invite people to come to our workshop, “[Creating Conceptual Comics: Storytelling and Techniques][5]” where we hope to share the knowledge and help equip others to improve their storytelling skills.

The workshop synopsis has a lot of information on what you might expect but a couple of point I’d like to highlight here. Firstly, the session uses comics to teach storytelling techniques. While the medium is indeed comics, the goal is to teach __how to convey a story__ - efficiently and effectively - and how to use that story to inform future design.

More importantly, participants __do not need to know how to draw__. In fact, one of the co presenters, Mark Wehner, has volunteered himself as demonstration of this for the entire workshop. I’ll be speaking a lot about how to convey things as a comic without an ounce of drawing talent and also provide some templates for people to use for common scenarios

As an example, I had Mark draw me two sketches on the whiteboard. The first, I asked for a person in front of a computer. The latter, I asked for him to convey a person who’s been waiting for a web page to load for too long. Here are his sketches:


I then illustrated how I might approach the same, sticking to just stick figures:


Instantly, Mark understood the meaning and importance of body language in conveying this concept more efficiently. That is just a small small sample of how the medium can be effective in illustrating both the person and the activity that we are designing for.

[Early registration][6] for IA Summit ends Feb 10th. I would love to see some readers there at the conference, whether at our workshop or otherwise. If you or any colleagues of yours have questions about the workshop, feel free to email me or comment below.

[1]:http://www.ok-cancel.com/archives/article/2006/01/2006-conferences.html “2006 Conferences”
[2]:http://iasummit.org “IA Summit”
[3]:http://veen.com/jeff “Jeff Veen”
[4]:http://www.iasummit.org/2006/conferencedescrip.htm#132 “Communicating Concepts through Comics”
[5]:http://www.iasummit.org/2006/preconferencedescrip.htm#133 “Creating Conceptual Comics: Storytelling and Techniques”
[6]:http://www.iasummit.org/2006/registration.htm “IA Summit Registration”

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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?