Designing radically new technology systems that people will want to use is complex. Design teams must draw on knowledge related to people’s current values and desires to envision a preferred yet plausible future. However, the introduction of new technology can shape people’s values and practices, and what-we-know-now about them does not always translate to an effective guess of what the future could, or should, be. New products and systems typically exist outside of current understandings of technology and use paradigms; they often have few interaction and social conventions to guide the design process, making efforts to pursue them complex and risky. Through my doctoral research I have advanced and refined User Enactments as a design approach that aids design teams in more successfully investigate radical alterations to technologies’ roles, forms, and behaviors in uncharted design spaces. In addition to numerous academic publications, User Enactments has appeared in the popular design method handbook The Universal Methods of Design and has become a part of interaction design curriculum at the University of Michigan, Carnegie Mellon University, and Simon Fraser University.
A primary case study of putting User Enactments into action is my project investigating the potential future presence, form, and behavior of ‘virtual possessions’ (i.e., digital content and archives) within the context of teen bedrooms. While my recent work (Odom, Zimmerman, Forilizzi 2011) had unpacked how digital content and interactive technologies were intersecting with teen life in the bedroom, little work existed to inform designers on how teens’ growing collections of digital content should be displayed and how they should behave.
I generated four design concepts that changed the form and behavior of these digital things, making them more present within a teen bedroom. I then conducted User Enactment sessions to investigate how these new forms and behaviors influence perceptions of value. These sessions revealed how new technologies might better support teens’ self-exploration and reflection, as well as how they could complicate their identity construction processes. In addition to these study-specific findings, this project prompted further reflection on and refinement of the User Enactment method itself. These reflections were described and unpacked in a paper that received the DIS 2012 Best Paper Award. I continue to draw on the User Enactments method in my own research as well as teach how to put it into practice on undergraduate and graduate levels.
Odom, W., Zimmerman, J. Forlizzi, J. (2016, in press). Engaging Teens in Dialogue on Potential Technological Futures with User Enactments. In Little, L., Toth, N., Bell, B., Fitton, D. (Eds.) An HCI Perspective on Working with Teenagers in Research Projects. Springer Press.
Odom, W., Zimmerman, J., Forlizzi, J., Choi, H., Meier, S., Park, A. (2014). Unpacking the thinking and making behind a user enactments project. In Proceedings of Designing Interactive Systems. Vancouver, Canada. DIS ’14. ACM Press, 513-522. (Local Copy, ACM Link)
Odom, W., Zimmerman, J., Davidoff, S., Forlizzi, J., Dey, A., Lee, M. (2012). Speed Dating. Universal Methods of Design, 164-165.
Odom, W., Zimmerman, J., Davidoff, S., Forlizzi, J., Dey, A., Lee, M. (2012). A Fieldwork of the Future with User Enactments. In Proceedings of Designing Interactive Systems, Newcastle, UK. DIS ’12. ACM Press, 338-347. * Best Paper Award* (Local Copy, ACM Link)
Odom, W. Zimmerman, J., Forlizzi, J., Choi, H., Meier, S., Park, A. (2012). Investigating the presence, form and behavior of virtual possessions in the context of a teen bedroom. In Proceedings of SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Austin, Texas. CHI ’12. ACM Press, 327-336. (Local Copy, ACM Link)
Teen Bedroom User Enactments Design Process Book