Product Ideation & Script Writing

by Luke Wroblewski May 14, 2007

At STC’s Technical Communication Summit, Simon Singh –author of The Code Book and Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe - discussed his process as a documentary filmmaker. Of particular interest to me was how his approach to writing the script for a documentary mirrored the product ideation process I frequently follow.

Singh noted that his team would first draft a script for the documentary, then go film appropriate subjects and finally rewrite the script based on the content and insights they gained during filming. In essence, the process of filming was an exploration of the core ideas laid out in the initial script. Depending on what came out of the filming process, the final script would change accordingly.

The product ideation process I utilize seems to follow a similar trajectory. An initial story is mapped out and documented: what problem are we solving, for who, and how? We also lay out what design principles best help tell that story: what elements of user experience most clearly support our message to potential customers? Then this initial story is illustrated through product designs and prototypes, and further informed though research and iteration. Depending on what comes out of the design and research process, the final product (and story) changes accordingly. Working through a prototype or core interactions might illuminate a better way of communicating with customers. Diving deep into data may change the focus of the product and thereby it’s messaging.