After watching a great Google Techtalk on using generative research for systems architecture (Digging Beyond User Preferences by Indi Young), I was inspired to spend some of my Sunday afternoon playing with Post-it notes while thinking over some work I’m doing on our ad network and viral seeding applications.
I’d like to point out that I’m not following her process exactly in the images below…
Here’s what you’ll need:
Three Colours of Post-It notes
A very large piece of paper on the wall, or a large whiteboard
Come up with a full list of use cases for your application (you do know you’re user’s use cases don’t you?). Pick a colour of sticky note and write them all down.
Organise all of the the use cases into similar conceptual ideas on upper half of the piece of paper, so if two people are looking for statistics on a particular item (but for different reasons) then those two use cases would be in the same column. Move the columns around so that they each type of user’s use cases are close together.
When you’re finished this stage, you should have a piece of paper that looks something like this:
Now choose another colour of sticky note and write down the features that your application currently contains. Stick these below the “tower” of use cases which they specifically fix.
Finally, time to do some brain storming over new features if you are in the planning stage, and write theses on the final colour notes (or if you’re in the middle of implementing a feature then put this on the final colour sticky note). Add these in the same way as before.
The idea of this all is to try to draw your attention to which use cases are being fulfilled by the existing system, and which parts may been more thought in the future.
You can also group the columns by the type of user that has those use cases (not shown on the image above). For example, in the above image we actually have five different groupings of use cases, and I’m glad to say that the section that appears to not have features to support it (just left of centre), is the group with only one user, Me, so it’s probably the least important section of the system to get up and running – I have my own external tools to support them.