Context is everything (for this card set)
Andreas Larsson and his colleagues at Lund University and Haptimap have created a set of “context cards” titled Dynamic User Experiences. (Big thanks to UC Boulder colleagues Stefan Carmien and Clayton Lewis for getting them for me.)
The cards come in a set of around 30, with a picture and caption on one side (e.g., “at the beach” with a picture of a user sitting at the beach with a mobile device on her lap) and a description of the situation on the other side (e.g., “Spending a day on the beach might expose your mobile device to …”). The cards are available through the workshops that Larsson and his group run, accompanied by a nice 64-page book that describes some activities that can be done with the cards.
Part of the draw for me is that the cards are a lot like the PIC-UP cards and Brain cards we developed in our lab—but with a focus on context instead of impact (for PIC-UP) or technological features (for Brain). For each of the card sets, there’s an assumption that the user population has certain things that they know, but certain things they don’t—or things they need to be reminded of. In the case of context cards, it’s context, encouraging the designer to consider how will the technological device you’re developing work at the beach, or in the dark, or while moving. Seems like a reasonable approach, and one that the HaptiMap group apparently uses in developing mobile products and in running workshops. Looking forward to seeing more from this group.