Using the Story Wall for Chunking User’s Tasks

Matt is working at the story wall

I am grateful to be working with Matt Hixson on some really neat tools that will help people realize the power of social media for their business.  I won’t say a lot about that — but  do check out Matt’s blog here:

Matt is working at the story wall

Matt is working at the story wall. He is looking at stories that equate to task chunks. IxD sketches of components that support the user in doing various tasks are pinned to the wall next to the stories

He and his scientists are working on some crazy maths that surface some data that will be visualized.  He’s spent a bunch of time thinking about what those visualizations could be.

As we are working on building an enterprise application,  am concerned with designing a framework that supports intuitive workflow for the people who need to administrate the tool.  If I learned one thing working on enterprise applications, making mundane tasks easy and intuitive goes a long way towards driving more use of a tool.  To that end,  I am thinking about how I can help Matt think about supporting tasks in the various contexts different users will have for meeting their goals.

I know we can get to a scalable solution — a component approach to design.    Our approach to this is to take the context scenarios we wrote a few months ago and break them apart into  types of work the user is doing along the way to meeting goals.    As we break the scenarios into stories, we have a conversation about the type of task the user is engaged in.   Is the user adding/editing?  Is the user combining elements to make something?  Is the user Is the user opening a layer of detail?  Is the user sorting results? Is the user culling a list?   Is the user focusing on a specific data point?  Is the user pivoting a view?   Is the user looking at the big picture?   Once we have a list of tasks we need to support throughout the application, we can design a set of interaction patterns that will support them.

In parallel we have to be thinking about the   framework of the application.  How do all these components hook together to support the context scenario we wrote in the first place.    When we start organizing the little tasks we are supporting building them back up into domain stacks, we start to get something that looks like a mental model.

mental model

This is a model of a huge enterprise task — broken into stacks and mapped to types of work done by various project specific personas.

This is when Matt and I back up from the  detail of the task , look at the whole wall and ask….  Where  is the navigation that supports users in finding things?  How do users get to tools?  Do they go get a tool….or does it appear as they need it as part of the general flow?

Once we get this nailed down,  we can go wild with data visualization.

Published by JB

@uxsuccess Lean User Experience; Agile software development @Tellagence, I believe user success = business success. I talk about that here: Personal blog -

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