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Experience Design

#IdeaNotebook: User Response Bingo

Since my last post about making emotional response part of the design process and a defined focus of research, I’ve been wondering how you help make user responses, not just success, matter to a design and development team and get them to focus on it. One idea I came up with is user response bingo.
Bingo grid with user response terms
The image shows a prototype of a bingo card. Here’s the way the whole idea would be used on a team. First, select a minimum of 24 emotional reactions that you either want to see (positive) or really want to avoid (negative) based on user research (of course), stakeholder input, and team priorities. Arrange them in one or more 5×5 grids with the center square a blank for a wildcard word (more on that in a moment).
Observers “play” during a usability study or review of recorded sessions, following the rules of traditional bingo. When the study participant uses a word or phrase that is on the card, observers mark it on their cards. If the participant uses a strong positive or negative word or phrase such as “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!” that was not included in the list, but is noteworthy, observers can place that in their the wildcard slot. (The designated note taker, alas, cannot play. That person should capture more methodical and complete notes, including not only what key words are used, but how often and in what task.)
Create a couple of variations of cards both to ensure the team does not just let one observer do all the work and to allow for a little fun competition. My example includes three variations of cards based on thirty words from Microsoft’s Product Reaction Cards. I set it up in a spreadsheet where the three variations are reference linked to a common list (the first worksheet). In addition to the center square wildcard, I’ve provided space where additional wildcards can be captured, because maybe “wicked cool” also did not make your list.
You may find it useful to entice observers with prizes – fabulous, useful, or my personal favorite of just silly fun – as well as team bragging rights. Set up several scenarios for winning and have enough variations in the cards to allow for clear winners. The main winning scenario is the first person to fill a row and handing to the note taker or other designated trustworthy person. Others to consider include:

  • Most spaces filled on a card
  • Most interesting wildcard
  • Most wildcards collected (decide ahead of time whether a non-verbal reaction like laughter or a groan are allowed based on what you want to capture)

While I might not use this type of collection with every single test round, for early phase, formative tests, I think it could be a fun way to get people not just focused on what users do, but how they feel about the experience of using a product. Bingo is a simple game that many people know the rules to already, so playing does not cause to much distraction from just watching the session. The only hard part is that, depending on how the observation is set up, observers may not be able to yell BINGO!
What do you think? Please share your thoughts about this nascent idea and any suggestions to improve or expand it. If you do something like this or decide to try this, let me know how it goes. If you have seen variations of this, share a link. (Internet searches for “UX bingo” and similar terms turned up mostly buzzword bingo variations and this rather interesting idea for usability bingo that collects examples matching the criteria included.)
If you are interested in using my spreadsheet, I would be happy to send you a link to the Google Spreadsheet. Just send a note with the subject Spark: User Response Bingo Spreadsheet with your email to

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Karen Bachmann

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