Bodystorming is a form of brainstorming where participants use their bodies to gain new insights and experiences. Bodystorming is an immersive ideation process where creativity is facilitated through role-playing and physical interaction using props, products, prototypes, and physical spaces.
Bodystorming is a valuable tool for designers because it allows them to quickly and inexpensively test and iterate on their ideas in a real-world setting.
By acting out a potential solution, designers can better understand the needs and challenges of their users, and can identify potential problems and opportunities for improvement before investing in more expensive and time-consuming development efforts.
The approach is used to design physical products, software, and interior or exterior spaces.
The strategy helps teams break their dependency on analyzing ideas around a conference table and moves them closer to developing ideas that work in a real-world setting.
As a result, product development is based on actual user behavior as opposed to staged or manufactured behavior.
Conducting a bodystorming session
There are many ways to conduct a bodystorming session. Below we have detailed a relatively simplistic approach:
Assemble the team
For best results, start by assembling a small group of between 5 and 8 people. Ideally, the team should consist of experts, users, management, or those who will deliver or develop the product or service.
Define the location
Where will the potential product or service be used?
Once the location has been determined, the bodystorming team should go there and observe the behavior of others without a specific brief.
How do individuals interact with the product or service? What is the context for each interaction?
Reproduce the environment
To rebuild the location in a controlled environment, the team should create prototypes and props using cardboard, existing furniture, or other items.
Alternatively, they can simply be sketched out.
Members of the team should then be assigned roles according to the information gleaned in step three.
The individual can take on the role of a customer, user, or troubleshooter.
They can also act as the product itself.
Then, have each subject role-play various scenarios.
In bodystorming, it is important to role-play new situations based on scenarios that emerge from this initial round.
Individual roles can be fixed in advance or rotated through each team member.
However, it’s important to avoid replaying scenarios with the same actors in the same roles.
Doing so can introduce personal biases and stifle idea generation.
What has the team learned from the experience?
Did any new questions arise? Were new solutions to existing problems discovered?
Reflect by taking notes or filming the entire process for posterity.
Remember that bodystorming is an ideation method.
Once it has been completed, a prototype needs to be created with user testing occurring thereafter.
Some examples of bodystorming in action might include:
Mobile app UX
A team of designers acting out the use of a new mobile app in a public space.
Observing and taking notes on how people interact with the app, and identifying potential challenges and opportunities for improvement.
A group of architects and urban planners physically acting out the movement of people through a proposed public space, such as a park or plaza.
To better understand how the space will be used and how it can be optimized for different activities and users.
Consumer product mock-ups
Such as a kitchen appliance or piece of furniture, and testing it in different scenarios to understand how it will be used and what features are most important to users.
- Bodystorming is a form of brainstorming where participants use their bodies to gain new insights and experiences.
- Bodystorming helps teams break their dependency on analyzing ideas around a conference table and moves them closer to developing ideas that work in a real-world setting. This has positive implications for product development based on user behavior.
- Bodystorming sessions can be conducted by following seven simple steps: assemble the team, define the location, observe behavior, reproduce the environment, assign roles, improvise, and reflect. Once the process is over, the team must take successful ideas to the prototype and user testing stage.
- Bodystorming Overview:
- Bodystorming is a brainstorming technique where participants use their bodies to gain insights through role-playing and physical interaction.
- It aims to develop empathy for end-users by understanding their relationship with the physical environment.
- Used in designing physical products, software, and interior/exterior spaces.
- Benefits of Bodystorming:
- Implementation Steps:
- Assemble the Team: Gather a small group of experts, users, management, and relevant stakeholders.
- Define the Location: Determine where the product or service will be used.
- Observe Behavior: Observe how individuals interact with products/services in that location.
- Reproduce the Environment: Create prototypes, props, or sketches to recreate the location.
- Assign Roles: Assign roles like customers, users, or troubleshooters based on observations.
- Improvise: Role-play scenarios, avoiding repeating with the same actors.
- Reflect: Learn from the experience, note new questions, solutions, and insights.
- Bodystorming Example:
- Examples of Bodystorming:
- Mobile App UX: Designers simulate app use in public spaces, observe interactions, and identify challenges.
- Urban Planning: Architects act out people’s movement in proposed spaces to optimize usage.
- Consumer Product Mock-ups: Product designers use props to simulate product use and test scenarios.
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