Personas, scenarios, and breadth vs. depth thinking in design ide ation

11 Feb 2004 - 6:02pm
1211 reads
Robert Reimann


That's an interesting and useful way of characterizing the
design process.

The problem with brainstorming alone is that it leaves
you with many creative ideas, but not necessarily a
direction or organizing principle to prioritize or
refine them.

Personas, together with scenarios (in the earlier persona
discussion, nobody mentioned these in the same breath; the
former without the latter is of fairly limited use), can help
to curtail the breadth first thinking to a "relevant"
decision space, i.e., exploring a solution set that would
be acceptable to the target personas. High level, goal-oriented
"day in the life" scenarios help prune the breadth of the
tree, while more detail/task-oriented scenarios help explore
appropriate branches in a more depth-first manner. Both
types are useful and important throughout the design effort.

This isn't an argument against unconstrained brainstorming,
by the way. But once you've done an hour or two of that,
personas and scenarios can add an important element of
context that allows you to define and act on a design
direction that is in harmony with user goals and desires.



Robert Reimann
Manager, User Interface Design
Bose Design Center

Bose Corporation
The Mountain
Framingham, MA 01701

-----Original Message-----
From: Sandeep Jain [mailto:sandeepblues at]
Sent: Saturday, February 07, 2004 2:54 AM
To: Christian Simon; at
Subject: Re: [ID Discuss] Crit my cooper test, ehehe

Sorry. "depth first" might have been a geeky term.

Basically, when trying to solve a problem, you can
imagine that your mind creates a deciasion tree, and
you pick a certain path in that tree (like your might
pick in a family tree) to decide on a final design. At
each point in the path, there might be many possible
choices to make. These choices make up the breadth of
your decision tree. If you spend time doing breadth
first thinking (i.e. brainstorming), you are expanding
your potential options at each node, and are being
creative. If you go depth-first, then you are making
quick decisions and are being analytical...and
potentially, not giving out-of-the-box options a
chance to come to life.

You have probably heard of idea logs. A good idea log
usually has a lot of switching back and forth between
breadth first and depth-first thinking.


--- Christian Simon <christiansimon at>
> > While your response (I skimmed it) captured a
> > depth-first thought process, it doesn't have a
> long
> > list of brainstormed ideas...
> What do you mean by "depth-first thought process"?
> > you know...go for
> > quantity and reserve judgement.
> Go for points! Good advise.
> Xtian

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