Your constantly-updated definition of Bodystorming and collection of videos and articles

What is Bodystorming?

Bodystorming is a method of ideation and prototyping where designers role-play as an interface, which can be an invaluable tool for spatial UIs.

This method is helpful for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), which utilize real-world environments. In simple terms, instead of making 3-D models, people take the place of spatial UI elements and test different configurations. As three-dimensional media, augmented reality and virtual reality are harder to visualize via paper sketches or other low-fi prototypes.

Bodystorming is also called “embodied brainstorming.” It’s often used in ideation to get a general sense of the overall user experience of what an AR or VR experience will look and feel like.

Get Started with Bodystorming

One person assumes the user's role, while the rest of the team will represent animations, interactable objects, and speech interfaces.

Depending on what you are testing, bodystorming can take a few forms.

  • Speech Interface Roleplay: One person assumes the user's role, and the other takes the part of the speech interface, reading off a script. This method is an excellent way to identify gaps in a chatbot’s functions or improve the voice and tone to be more conversational.

  • Paper Prototype: In this version, each person will hold a picture or sketch of what UI element they represent and behave according to how the UI will behave. They also might be a character in an AR/VR story. It is a good way to test early visual designs as well.

  • Scripted Roleplay: This method can be handy for interactive narratives and resembles blocking choreography in a play, where each participant has set roles and scripts. Sometimes props or other scenery dressing may be necessary to help creativity.

  • Improvised Roleplay: As your product develops, it can be helpful to improvise a user’s journey through a task and remember how each interaction went. This is an easy way to test new ideas for free and solidify the user flow.

Just as paper prototypes are a good tool in 2D interaction design, bodystorming is often a great first step that leads into more advanced prototypes using more sophisticated VR and AR technologies.

When Should You Use Bodystorming?

Bodystorming is ideal for ideation and lo-fi prototypes in AR and VR. For AR designs, it can be helpful to do bodystorming in a specific place where the AR exists to test the interface’s relationship with the environment.

Since there are no digital models or code to update, it’s an excellent way to test various ideas and see which makes the most sense.

With proper facilitation, roleplay can also be a helpful method for doing usability tests, as long as your participants are willing to suspend disbelief and use their imagination. It can be a surprisingly effective way to identify pain points in a potential product or service that might have arisen later in development.

Like paper prototyping and sketching in 2D UX, bodystorming excels because it is cheap, intuitive and can provide just enough of a sense of a product to take the next step in development.

New Practices in Bodystorming

While bodystorming is very effective with only paper and imagination, new technologies have unlocked new methods. As opposed to simulating a visual UI in real space, some researchers have found it very effective to simulate real space with VR.

In these VR bodystorming sessions, users can bodystorm in virtual environments to test real-life interactions. In these sessions, roles are a little different.

  • Service designer: The designer handles organizing the Virtual Bodystorming sessions. The designer assigns service users to their role-playing characters, provides ideas and suggestions on the acting, and collects feedback from the users and the service provider.

  • Service users: These are the end users of the service, who, in the Virtual Bodystorming session, role-play the service scenario in the virtual environment while communicating and collaborating with other service users. Service users give the service designer feedback about the prototype and their experience.

  • Service provider: The provider supplies the designer with service design tasks and problems and observes the Virtual Bodystorming sessions in the virtual environment as a spectator, communicating feedback about the service prototype and how users respond to it to the service designer.

  • VR system operator: The system operator is responsible for developing the virtual environment and making changes according to the service designer’s feedback. The system operator also participates in Virtual Bodystorming as a spectator, looking for usability flaws of the system while in use.

As a high-tech virtual simulation or lo-fi roleplay exercise, bodystorming is an invaluable technique for spatial UIs of any form.

Learn More About Bodystorming

Take our course on UX Design for Augmented Reality.

Read more about spatial design for AR in Creating Augmented and Virtual Realities: Theory & Practice for Next-Generation Spatial.

Read about other ideation methods in Introduction to the Essential Ideation Techniques, which is the Heart of Design Thinking.

For an in-depth look at how VR is used to facilitate bodystorming, read Virtual Bodystorming: Utilizing Virtual Reality for Prototyping in Service Design.

Literature on Bodystorming

Here’s the entire UX literature on Bodystorming by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Bodystorming

Take a deep dive into Bodystorming with our course UX Design for Augmented Reality .

Augmented reality has emerged as a transformative technology, allowing us to blend the digital and physical worlds to enhance our daily lives. However, the path to create seamless and intuitive user experiences in AR presents unique challenges. This course equips you with the knowledge and skills to overcome these challenges and unlock the full potential of AR.

UX Design for Augmented Reality is taught by UX expert Frank Spillers, CEO and founder of the renowned UX consultancy Experience Dynamics. Frank is an expert in AR and VR and has 22 years of UX experience with Fortune 500 clients, including Nike, Intel, Microsoft, HP, and Capital One.

In this course, you will explore the entire design process of AR, along with the theory and guidelines to determine what makes a good AR experience. Through hands-on exercises and discussions, you will explore and discuss topics such as safety in AR, how to determine whether AR is the right platform for your idea, and what real-world spaces have potential as stages for AR experiences.

In lesson 1, you will learn the origins of AR, what makes it unique, and its colossal impact on human-computer interaction.

In lesson 2, you will dive into user research practices tailored to AR and its unique characteristics.

In lesson 3, you will dig into how to prototype for AR and create low-fi but testable prototypes.

In lesson 4, you will learn the heuristics and guidelines to test your designs and ensure they are practical and user-friendly.

Throughout the course, you'll get practical tips to apply in real-life projects. In the Portfolio projects, you'll build a foundation of an AR product. This will allow you to create a portfolio case study to entice recruiters or developers to make your dream a reality.

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