To come up with a proper design, product teams use a lot of different tools and techniques. The information gathered from contextual inquiries and user interviews become product requirements on top of which the actual design is built. But somewhere in all of this, there are the real people for whom the products are designed for. To design products that make the user’s life better, product teams must understand what’s going on in the user’s world. And that’s where storyboards come in.
What is a storyboard?
A storyboard is a linear sequence of illustrations, arrayed together to visualize a story. As a tool, storyboarding comes from motion picture production. Walt Disney Studios has used sketches of frames to visualize a story since the 1920s. Storyboarding became an essential tool of movie makers because it allowed them to create the world of a future film without investing too much time and resources into the actual production.
Stories are the most powerful delivery tool for information:
- Visualization. Pictures are worth a thousand words. Illustrating things works best for understanding of any concept or idea. The images can speak more powerfully than just words by adding extra layers of meaning.
- Memorability. Stories are 22 times more memorable than plain facts.
- Empathy. It’s possible to tell a story that everyone could see and relate to. We often empathize with characters who have real-life challenges similar to our own.
- Engagement. Stories capture attention. People are hardwired to respond to stories: our innate sense of curiosity draws us in and we engage more when we can sense a meaningful achievement about to be had.
What is a storyboarding in context of UX design?
Storyboarding in UX is tool which help you visually predict and explore a user’s experience with a product. It’s a very much as thinking about your product as if it was a movie in term of how people would use it. It would help you to understand how people would flow through the interaction with it over time, giving you a clear sense of how to create a strong narrative.
Why does storytelling matter in UX?
Stories are an effective and inexpensive way to capture, relate, and explore experiences in the design process. In relation to UX design process this technique has following benefits:
- Human-centered design approach. Stories put a human face on analytic data. Storyboards bring our solutions to life, so that designers can walk in the shoes of their users, and see solutions as they see them. Storyboarding helps designers to understand existing scenarios, a well as test hypotheses for potential scenarios.
- ‘Pitch and critique’ technique. Storyboarding is a team-based activity and everyone can contribute (not just designers). Same as for movie industry, each scene should be presented and critiqued by all team players. Approaching UX with storytelling inspires design concepts and brings teams closer together around a clearer picture of what’s being designed.
- Iterative approach. Storyboarding relies heavily on an iterative approach. The action of sketching out role-play tests for design concepts, lets designers experiment at little or no cost. Nobody gets too attached to the ideas that are generated because they’re so quick and rough.
Using storyboard to illustrate experiences
Starting the storyboard can be a little daunting, especially if you’re not confident in your drawing skills. But don’t worry, the guideline mentioned below will help you turn out a better scenario storyboard:
- Start with a plain text and arrows. The main thing is to break the story up into the moments (context, trigger, the decisions a character makes along the way, and ends up with the benefit or the problem).
- Add emotions to your story. Add emoticons to each step, to help others get a feel for what’s going on inside the character’s head. Remember to illustrate any reactions to success/ pain points along the way (what is the character expecting to happen, and how does the result affect him/her?) Try drawing in each emotional state as a simple expression.
- Translate each step into a storyboard frame. Emphasize each moment, and think how your character is feeling about it.
- Design clear outcome. Make sure your storyboard leaves your audience with no doubt about the outcome of the story: if you’re describing an unfavorable situation — end with the full weight of the problem, if you’re presenting a solution — end with the benefits of that solution to your character.