TiddlyChatter – designing the user experience

After releasing TiddlyChatter v0.6 on TiddlySpot, I’m taking a step back and focussing on what I can do to make TiddlyChatter as easy to understand and use as possible. It’s taken me two weeks of living in the thick of it to get to a point where I can clearly articulate what the point of TiddlyChatter is and why you’d use it – namely, that it turns the idea of a “collaboration” system into something that you consume, rather than somewhere you go; you build collaborating into your working style, rather than bending your working style to fit in with the latest funky collaboration tool.

I’ve been taking advice from Phil Whitehouse, who has plenty of experience managing user experience designers. Phil’s been helping me give TiddlyChatter a real user-centric design, albeit a pretty light-touch one. The process we’re going through, in a nutshell, looks like this:

  • Figure out an idea of an underlying business problem that TiddlyChatter addresses
  • Create personas (fictional characters) representing users in the groups we are targeting, including a description of them as a person and their general goals in life i.e. their context
  • Write down user stories for the personas and prioritise these
  • Construct user journeys that explain how someone realises a user story, and look for every place where they could drop off the journey and how we can get them back on it
  • It’s only at this point that we start to piece together a user interface that cleanly supports the journeys we want our users to take
  • All the way through, we’re trying to stick to Agile principles such as short iterations and getting lots of feedback from the users themselves

We’re publishing this as we go, so stick feedback either on this blog or on the TiddlyWikiDev group – we are listening!

The net result of today’s work is the following three diagrams, which I know will look better once they are typed up, but here they are:

Assumptions about the users (creating personas)

The two scenarios we are mapping to are the educational context and the business context. There are two groups of three personas, each representing a group of individuals who might plausibly use TiddlyChatter. I was very surprised to find that I really got into creating these guys and girls and it exposed some flaws in the assumptions I’d made in my mind, particularly that everyone sees the need to collaborate and share information – I now think that your average school-kid is more interested in sorting out their own grades!
TC - user assumptions (persona-based)

High-level user story assumptions

I’ve guessed at what my characters want to get out of the general area of collaborating with others. If you have anything to add or think I’m barking up the wrong tree, don’t hesitate to say so.
TC - high-level user story assumptions

A user journey – 1st impressions

This takes a user from hitting the TiddlyChatter website, through downloading the software into their own TiddlyWiki, to getting some published content and publishing their own. In the past, I’ve never focussed on keeping users on their journey and this has revealed that part to be much more complicated than the journey itself.
TC - user journey - 1st impressions

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2 Comments

  1. Posted October 19, 2007 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    One usage scenario would be a group of academics who have a grant to work on a collaborative research initiative, or who are just splitting an ordinary research grant, but who work at different universities, who might want to keep tabs on each other’s work and ideas without having inboxes full of “reply all” emails, and without having anything official up on the web, even password protected. Is this the kind of thing you’re thinking about? It took me a while to get my head around what TiddlyChatter was all about, reading the TWDev group, but research collaboration in small groups now seems to me like one obvious “market”.

  2. Posted October 22, 2007 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Andrew,
    Thank you, it’s very helpful to have other people thinking about this! There’s still a web presence per person, but it would mean that each of the researchers can keep their own personal web presence, and it need be nothing more than the information they want to share if they want to stay low-key. If you’ve got your head around TiddlyChatter, your challenge should you choose to accept it is to write down either here or in TWDev how you see it.


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