Hi there, this is me!

Hi, I’m Amelia Bellows and I work in user experience and design. Mostly for the web but you know how that goes … user experience isn’t about any single medium anymore, if it ever was, it’s about people. When we design for human experience we’re thinking about the encompassing context: how we use the web, our phones and media players, games, cars, bicycles, trains, automated check outs and vending, kiosks, you name it. But when we get into the design itself we’re often focused on the interface and technology, and the human being can fade into the background as choices are weighed, features prioritized, and decisions made.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve had opportunities to create some comics to tell stories to keep the focus on the user … usually problematic situations that we’re working on improving. These have always been fun to do and generally well received by audiences, who get the point quickly and also enjoy them. The characters at design comics (check them out, especially Galina, my favorite) made this possible out of the box. Showing these comic stories seemed to jump over hurdles that might otherwise have resulted in long discussions to resolve differences of opinions.

Then, three weeks ago I saw Dan Roam speak at the IASummit in Phoenix. It was amazing. Though I had skimmed his book, seeing him talk and really getting it was transformative. A more human touch and simple style, especially sketching, elicits a more human response from people, naturally. Warm and human vs. cool and analytical. More on that later. (Meanwhile, you can listen and watch his talk from the Summit at Boxes and Arrows).

The following week, I revised my approach on some stories about web strategy we were planning to tell with user scenarios. I started sketching out characters, as well as highly simplified UI elements, in Illustrator. It was good, but one of those things you keep noodling on because it’s just not quite there yet.

Then, last week, I got an iPad, and started to draw on it. It was way better. Felt like the beginning of a really sweet spot. Not to mention oodles of fun. (I’ll also be sharing some ideas later on what to use and how to use it so you can create comics on the iPad too.)

On this site, I plan to share thoughts on user comics, examples of how they can be used for story telling, and some of my favorite characters as they take shape and get a life.  Hope you’ll let me know what you think and share any examples you come across too!


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