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Skype UX maps constitute a visual toolkit to characterize, design and discuss the conversational ecosystems around Skype users and services. Following my method of "bootstrapping" visualizations, we used visualizations extensively in order to find the right visual language for the Skype UX maps.

Ontological explorations

At first, I deconstructed existing approaches to mapping the Skype User Experience in order to find out what elements could go on the maps and what the most important dimensions were. The results were presented in large, loosely organized concept clouds.

Auto-generated sentences

One of the approaches to organizing the resulting conceptual dimensions involved building sentence structures, or templates. As a playful inspirational tool, I produced a random sentence generator, producing statement after statement about non-standard communication modes - some absurd, some quite realistic.

Conceptual diagrams

Working with different features of conversational activities, the dimensions of audience, communication channel and richness of the experience turned out to be central for understanding communication via Skype. This diagram positions different Skype features according to these dimensions.

Visual language

Based on these conceptual explorations, we defined a concise, flexible visual language to construct diagrams and maps for different perspectives on the Skype user experience.

Iconic tiles

Iconic representations of different conversation modes is one potential use of this visual language we explored.

Connecting across devices

Also complex settings and feature combinations can be expressed in diagrams based on the visual language.

Communication ecosystems

For illustrating the ecosystems around Skype user personas (fictitious, prototypical Skype users), we developed a toolkit for rapidly generating diagrams with Flash Actionscript.