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BJ Fogg Chapter on Conceptual Designs

BJ Fogg Chapter on Conceptual Designs

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Conceptual Designs / Fogg
 
BJ Fogg – bjfogg@stanford.edu
 
Page 1Version 1 – May 2003
Conceptual Designs:
The fastest way to capture and share your idea
 
 by BJ Fogg, Ph.D. bjfogg@stanford.edu, www.bjfogg.comPersuasive Technology Lab, Stanford UniversityPublished chapter in
 Design Research: Methods and Perspectives
(M.I.T. Press, 2004)
Brainstorming is not enough
Brainstorming can be pure pleasure. With a good creative team, the new ideas can keeprolling in like fresh waves to a shore, one right after the other, offering endless variationson a theme. Being in the creative flow and having so many ideas wash over you can beinvigorating. But like the billions of waves that dissipate on the beach each hour, theenergy of simple ideas – even excellent ideas – usually gets lost after the brainstorm isover.There’s a problem in the process of invention: Designers lack an efficient method for capturing and communicating the power of their best ideas.In this chapter I hope to solve that problem. In the pages ahead you’ll learn how to createwhat I call a “conceptual design.” The process I describe can help you develop your idea,transforming it from a simple concept to something that seems on the verge of reality.What’s more, the process of creating a conceptual design is simple and fast. In less thanthree hours you can crank out a first draft. Once you have a conceptual design in hand--even a first draft--you can share it with your target users, your colleagues, or your boss.
Conceptual designs let you share and improve your idea
Sharing ideas early and often is one key to success for designers of end-user products andservices. When you share with target users, you get feedback to help you improve your concept. When you share with your colleagues, you can make sure everyone on the teamhas a similar vision. When you share with your boss, you can enlist her support andfeedback early. Or if your boss hates the concept, she can let you know right away, soyou can scrap the idea and work on something else that has more potential for your organization.If you don’t have a method for taking an idea from a brainstorm and moving it toward anactionable plan, such as a prototype or user research, you will lose time, momentum, and perhaps support.I’ve been developing the format for conceptual designs since 1996 when I worked atInterval Research. Since then I’ve taken the method with me to my professional work,
 
 
Conceptual Designs / Fogg
 
BJ Fogg – bjfogg@stanford.edu
 
Page 2Version 1 – May 2003
inventing new products and services at Sun Microsystems, Casio Research, and for clients. I’ve also taught the method to about 150 students over the past seven years atStanford University. Over this time I’ve improved the format, distilling the formula downto the essential parts in the right sequence.Before I explain how to create a conceptual design, I suggest you go to the end of thischapter where I’ve placed two examples. These conceptual designs are by students whohave no significant design experience. They did these projects in a handful of hours over a period of two weeks. It doesn’t matter whether you like the creative ideas or not; what Ihope you see is how quickly you can grasp these concepts. Like most conceptual designs,these slides share lots of information in a sequence that makes sense. What you don’t seeat first is how much the framework for conceptual designs helped the students (andmyself in my own work) identify what they needed to do to make their conceptunderstandable. By the end of this chapter you should see how all this fits together andwhat role conceptual designs can play in your own work.So let’s dive in.
What goes into a conceptual design
The standard conceptual design has twelve parts:
1. title page2. overview3. user description4. storyboard of user experience5. prototype6. features/functionality7. justifications for design (theoretical and practical)8. results of user testing9. shortcomings of design10. expansion -- what else is possible11. next steps in design process12. summary
As I’ve evolved the formula for conceptual designs over the years, I’ve modified things.At times I added elements that I realized were missing (such as #11: next steps in thedesign process); other times I cut elements that weren’t as important. As it stands nowthese twelve elements serve most purposes, though at times teams may need to add someelements to describe market landscape or revenue models.Over the years I’ve also found that it’s simplest to create conceptual designs inPowerPoint. Other types of presentation software will also work. Word processing programs aren’t as good because they don’t have the powerful visual abilities.Furthermore, sooner or later you’ll present your concept by projecting your ideas onto ascreen. For these reasons presentation software is the way to go from the beginning.
 
 
Conceptual Designs / Fogg
 
BJ Fogg – bjfogg@stanford.edu
 
Page 3Version 1 – May 2003
Because conceptual designs tend to follow a pattern – twelve elements in the same order  – I’ve created a template (you’ll find this template at bjfogg.info/cd). Starting with atemplate helps you be efficient in developing your idea; you simply start replacing thingson the template with your own material. With this template in hand you don’t have tothink about order of ideas or formatting issues. Instead, you can stay focused on the particulars of your user group, your concept, and your audience.The easiest way for me to demonstrate how this template works is to show an example. Inthe pages that follow you’ll find my template next to a student team’s final concept, eachslide side by side. I’ll explain things at each step. But you should also take time to notehow the students worked from the template to create their deliverable. In this case, thistwo-person team spent 10 hours on this project, start to finish.
My basic template One team’s deliverable Blond & Chou(2002)1. title page
 
1. title pageNotes about the title page
 
In the conceptual design formula the title page is more than a gratuitous cover; the title page launches the concept quickly and clearly. The concept name and creators are listed prominently, and the graphic generates visual interest. Both of these things setexpectations about what’s to come.Because the template in this example is geared toward design challenges, the title pageincludes a summary of the design brief and the project time limit. In a corporate settingdesigners should instead say what they are trying to accomplish with their concept (for example, “Project Goal: To win back our market share in the digital camera space”) andlist how much time they’ve invested in the project so far. Explicitly stating the goal andtime investment helps the design team and executives decide whether it’s worthwhile tocontinue the project.
 
2. overview
 
2. overview
 

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