Monday, September 22, 2008

What Place Does Theater Have in the Creative Process of Design?

Theater training helps to design innovative UX ...

"In a world where a focus on designing innovative, compelling, valuable, and engaging user experiences is becoming increasingly important, designers of user experiences endeavor to enhance and improve the way they work and achieve the desired outcome. As designers, to be truly innovative, we must open ourselves up to new ideas, surround ourselves with diverse inputs, and be willing to embark on a new journey—regardless of whether we know the destination. Actors and others who create theater would tell you this kind of mindset is part their everyday work culture. So, what can we learn from the way actors and other theatrical artists work that will help us be more innovative, too?

Is Theater Really Magic?

Theatrical tradition dates back far in our history. Theater has long given people—artists in particular—a means of interacting with their communities. There are many reasons why this is true, but some important ones are that theater provides

* an engaging and insightful means of communication
* a successful and proven method of building shared understanding
* the fastest way to develop an ensemble mentality that motivates and supports each member

Why is this so? Despite the prevalence of the myth that theater—or improv—is magical and only for theatrical people, the reality is that theatrical tradition is built upon sound principles and exercises that promote

* creativity
* spontaneity
* trust
* collaboration
* skillful improvisation

So, now that we know it’s not really magic, what can we take from theater training that would truly help us learn how to be more innovative in our own everyday lives? When I ask myself that question, I’m reminded of recently reading about some Google design principles. I was researching some ideas about innovation and came across a Google blog entry that talked about how they achieve innovation. Not surprisingly, I found many of their principles aligned with some of the main principles of theater. The key points that struck me in particular as drivers of innovative ideas were the following:

* focusing on people—a key principle behind user-centered design
* daring to innovate—for a big payoff, we need to take a big risk
* engendering trust—being worthy of people’s trust
* adding a human touch—empathy does much to drive good design"    (Continued via UXmatters, Traci Lepore)    [Usability Resources]

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