Story-scaping the UX

Story helps frame an experience. Basically, I cast the user as the main character. Then plot her journey across the interface. The story’s beginning, middle, and end are implied with clear signposts: simple language and visual emphasis.

While story can be the user’s journey, it can also just be a story. Narrative can make a complex topic relatable and understandable, from nanotechnology to cancer research.

Like so…

Pearson’s Science Tales


Pearson Education needed remediation activities in order to be eligible to sell its science program to California. The activities had to reinforce 100s of lessons spanning ages 8-12. I wrote a series of ‘fractured science tales’ to explain challenging concepts. 

Fun fact: To get these done fast ‘n cheap, we nabbed a narrator from the editorial department. We built an impromptu sound studio in a vacant office.


Pearson Science Games The particles in the first bowl moved slowly.
The particles in the second bowl moved fast.
The particles in the third bowl moved neither too fast nor too slow.
The temperature was just right.

Martha the Mauler

Achoo! A pathogen heads straight for the human girl’s eye!
Martha washes it away with tears!



I wrote and directed the animated series Zebrafish for Children’s Hospital Boston. The story models compassion to kids. The goal: make it authentic, so kids feel like they can (and want to) move the meter, however slightly, on something they care about.

Vita Escolar is ready to rock. She’s got a band name, a used guitar, and three chords under her studded belt. All she needs are a few bandmates to complete the picture. Instead, an activist, two gamers, and an artist show up to her audition. None play a lick of music. But when she can’t shake ’em off, she resigns herself to join ’em. After all, a virtual band is better than no band… er, right? With a little help from Walt, Tanya, Plinko, and Jay, Vita learns that you can’t always get what you want — but you might get what your friends need. And that’s way better. Oh yeah!”

Later, Simon & Schuster published the graphic novel, making the story available to a wider audience. It received notable recognition: Children’s Choice Book Award Finalist, JLG Selection, NCTE Notable Children’s Book List.

Genius from our girl Sharon.”
—Betsy Bird, New York Public Library