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Interaction Design Tools

You can download sheets for user research and ideation in interaction and service design below. They are PDF-files in A4-format.

The Persona and Scenario Sheet is a support for data collection during user research and you can use it as a basis for constructing interview questions and observation protocols. It can also be used to set up persona hypotheses in an early sensitising session before data collection. It has two sections; one concerns the user and his or her relation to the product domain (the persona part), and the other concerns the activities users perform in relation to the product domain (the scenario part). You may have to use several sheets in your data collection. The user section is loosely based on the dimensions of personas described by Cooper, Reimann and Cronin (2007), as well as Pruitt & Adlin (2005), and I have included "An Ordinary Day" to make the personas more alive. The activity section is based on the categories in Burke's pentad for human action: Act (what), Scene (when and where), Agent (who), Agency (how), Purpose (why) (Burke, 1945; Wertsch, 1998). The theory behind the sheets is described in more detail in one of my papers (Arvola, 2013). Some experiences from using them is described in another paper (Arvola & Walfridsson, 2014). The most complete description is only avalable in Swedish in my book "Interaktionsdesign och UX" (Arvola, 2014).

The Design Concept Sheet is a response to my students who always ask what we mean by a design concept in interaction and service design. It is supposed to support you to think your design concepts through properly, and it gives direction on what dimensions design concepts can differ from each other. So if you have five design concepts early on in a project, you can describe how they are similar and different based on the various headings in the chart. It also contains a template for a storyboard that you can use to figure out what the usage of the design concept would be like, and how people would interact with it. A good idea is to also explore several different alternative storyboards for each design concept. The Concept Design Sheet is, just like the activity section in the Persona Sheet, based on Burke's pentad. I have also added a specific question that focuses on ethics, and how people and the world are affected by the design, in the short run as well as in the long run (relating to the act-scene ratio in the pentad). Actually, the ratios between the constituents of the pentad are of key importance in design, since it is there problems inconsistencies may occur.

I have chosen to use Burke's original pentad, and this means that the 'how' refers both to "by what means" or steps by which the act is performed (quibus auxiliis), and "the attitude" with which, or the manner in which, an act is performed (quo modo) (Burke, 1978). I have in the sheets specifically highlighted these two aspects of the agency. Lindquist (2003) provides a good introduction to Burke's pentad (in Swedish) and also describes this double nature of agency in the pentad, especially in relation to services.


These sheets are like training wheels. Do not treat them as templates, but rahter a structure to get you started and find a focus for your work. Eventually they will become second nature to you and at that point you will not need them anymore. They are good for making you focus on the right things, but you should not use them as presentation material. Make use of your imagination and find ways of presenting your personas and concept that highlight the important things in them. Examples of how to make storyboards and personas come to life in stories and comics can be found in our report about Greta and Torsten (Arvola et al., 2008). It is unfortunately only in Swedish, but the images are pretty.


Arvola, M. (2014). Interaktionsdesign och UX. Studentlitteratur. [ The publisher's product page ]

Arvola, M. (2013). The Mediated Action Sheets: A Framework for the Fuzzy Front-End of Interaction and Service Design. In Crafting the Future: The 10th International European Academy of Design Conference. Gothenburg, Sweden, April 17 - 19, 2013. [ PDF ]

Arvola, M., Holmlid, S., Nygard, S., Segelström, F., & Wentzel, J. (2008). Greta & Torsten: Två personas för äldre användare av hälsans nya verktyg (Greta & Torsten: Two personas for elderly users of new tools for health). Project report. Linköping: Santa Anna IT Research Institute AB and Hälsans Nya Verktyg. In Swedish. [ PDF ]

Arvola, M., & Walfridsson, A. (2014) The Mediated Action Sheets: Structuring the Fuzzy Front-End of UX. In NordiCHI 2014 Workshop - The Fuzzy Front End of Experience Design. Helsinki, Finland, October 26, 2014. VTT Technology. Available at http://www.vtt.fi/publications/publication_series.jsp. [ PDF ]

Burke, K. (1945). A Grammar of Motives. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Burke, K. (1978). Questions and answers about the pentad. College Composition and Communication, 19 (December), 330-335.

Cooper, A., Reimann, R., & Cronin, D. (2007). About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design. Indianapolis, IN: Wiley.

Lindquist, H. (2003). Tjänstens grammatik och retorik - om utvecklingen av Burkes pentad till en hexad. Paper presenterat vid 17:de Nordiska företagsekonomiska ämneskonferensen, Reykjavik, 14-16 augusti 2003. In Swedish. [ PDF ]

Pruitt, J., & Adlin, T. (2005). The Persona Lifecycle: Keeping People in Mind Throughout Product Design. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.

Wertsch, J. V. (1998). Mind as Action. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Page responsible: Mattias Arvola
Last updated: 2015-04-27