As a teenager, Ben was into role playing games. For him, it was about creating a world, being someone else and doing things he couldn’t do in the real world.
In his job as a designer, he feels he still uses this capacity to make believe. When he builds something, he imagines he is the user who is going to use the product.
He discussed the scenarios described in About Face by Alan Cooper, which are concrete, specific stories about your user and what they do in their daily life as they use your product. He is always surprised how simple it is to be innovative when using these scenarios. You have constraints: your persona, your intuitive understanding of how the world works, and your goal, but you also have the freedom to let the storytelling find a natural flow towards the user’s goal.
He focussed on one key quote from Cooper: “Pretend the interface is magic”. This allows him to concentrate on how to get to the goal.
You obviously have to dial, back as you can’t build everything you can imagine. However, you do find things are novel and unexpected.