Man using kiosk in an airport

Bodystorming

Bodystorming means roleplaying as your user in context. Empathy is a vital part of user experience, and bodystorming allows you and your team to understand more deeply why customers would use your product, how they would use it, and what obstacles they would face.

Bodystorming requires physically relocating your team to a real-world location where your product is likely to be used, immersing your team in the reality of the user experience. It aids the design of kiosk interfaces and mobile apps by giving your team a keen understanding of use in both ideal and less-than-ideal conditions.

Category:
Description

Schedule Time & Gather Materials

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Schedule Time:

  • Time Per Observation / Role-Play Session: 1-2 Hours
Gather Materials

Gather Materials:

Required

  • Notebooks & pencils
  • Means of transportation

Optional/As Needed

  • Cardboard, markers, glue, tape, etc. to make props

Carry Out This Method

Crowd of people in a shopping mall
  1. Gather a group of 3-6 product team members who are comfortable with role playing and thinking on their toes.
  2. Visit the location of use for observation. For example, visit a bank and watch users use the ATM, or visit a mall and watch users on their mobile devices.
  3. Note any unexpected use cases, obstacles, or tasks. Look for things like parents trying to use an ATM with one hand and hold a baby with the other, or mobile device users struggling to see their screens in sunlight.
  4. Have your team role-play as users, in context if possible. Alternatively, use cardboard to build rudimentary props at your office to recreate the context of use.
  5. Continue role-playing as different personas in various scenarios to uncover previously unexplored issues or opportunities.
  6. After about an hour, discuss and record your observations. You may wish to use a method like Affinity Diagramming to organize them.

Try These Tips

  • Complete the observation and role-play phases during the same visit for indoor locations. When designing for outdoor locations, split these phases between two days with similar weather to role-play in the same light conditions as you observed.
  • If you need to construct a prop to represent an interface, designate a team member to role-play as the interface. Have them speak prompts aloud and describe the interface’s behavior in response to user actions.

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