Bonny Colville-Hyde is a UX architect and a member of Ladies That UX Bristol. For the last eight years she’s worked to make digital services more effective, efficient and satisfying for users. Bonny has previously worked for eBay, the BBC, Samaritans and Volkswagen. The Scandinavia-obsessed traveller and crafter took the the stage at 300 Seconds to talk about the UX of comics. She blogs at almostexact.com
The comic Peanuts ran from 1950 to 2000, publishing a whopping 17,897 comic strips. That gave its creator, Charles Schulz the accolade of telling the longest story ever told by a human being. For 50 years, characters like Snoopy and Charlie Brown won hearts and minds all over the globe.
It’s astounding, said Bonny, that one story can generate so much interest internationally, influencing several generations. It was able to do that because comics are such a powerful method of communication. Their power comes from the way that humans respond when words and pictures are combined together.
The ancient Egyptians understood the power of words and pictures, and devised a whole communication method around them over 5,000 years ago. Like Charles Schultz, they used these to tell stories – about life, death, commerce, politics, and all the things that touch us day to day.
Humans are addicted to stories. We use them as tools in our relationships; we communicate our abilities through storytelling. We share anecdotes of our successes. It’s a skill we learn as children, and through stories we learn life lessons and develop our sense of morality and social norms. And we understand how to tell stories from the stories that are told to us.
But while socially we all use stories well, where they aren’t used as effectively, argued Bonny, is in business communication. We use spreadsheets or long, dry reports. If you want to engage people, you need to give them something that they’ll really enjoy. And that’s why Bonny uses comics to tell stories and influence stakeholders.