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In the field of user's experience this sign we typically conduct workshops in interviews using different user research techniques. One of these techniques is combining stories into process flows.

In today's article, Storyboarding in UX Design, we will discuss the different storyboards I said tool to explore the existing UX issues and provide viable solutions.

We will also tackle the following subtopics:

In UX, we always work with synthesizing our research into storyboards. However, the real deal is making storyboards for people whom we are designing for.

Storyboards help provide solutions to the existing problems in design which in turn creates a better product for the users. 


What is a storyboard?

A storyboard is composed of a linear sequence of graphics or illustrations combined to create a visual story.

Used as a tool, storyboards first became popular in motion picture production. An example is Walt Disney studios popularizing storyboards in the 1920s. These storyboards provided animators to create film before actually building it.

Those that stories are one of the powerful forms of delivery information for several reasons:

Visualization

We all know the saying, "A picture paints a thousand words." This saying is true for storyboarding, which helps illustrate a concept or idea for people to understand what it tries to convey fully. 

Empathy

Storyboards also connect with people's emotions. We often empathize with others, especially in situations where we can see similarities in our own real life. In general, designers create storyboards based on characters with emotions.

Engagement

People are automatically hardwired to stories because stories capture attention. As human beings, we have a sense of curiosity, which immediately draws us to engage and see what will happen next.


Storyboarding in UX design

UX Storyboarding creates visuals to predict and explore the UX or user journey with a product. The product is presented in a movie-like way to show how people will use it visually. 

This helps UX designers understand the flow of interaction with the product over a period of time, which provides UX designers with what is essential for their users.  


Why does storyboarding matter in UX?

Stories are one of the cost-efficient ways to capture, convey, and explore different user experiences during the design process.


Let us explore more advantages of storytelling in UX design:

Human-centered design approach

In storyboards, the people are the center of the design process. The accurate log user data and research findings are done with humans at the heart of everything.

User flow on mind

UX designers always think about their users, and they try to walk in their shoes to see how users similarly interact with the product. This strategy helps UX designers fully understand any existing interaction scenarios, including hypothesis tests and other potential situations that may occur. 

Prioritizes what is important

Storyboards reveal the things most important and the things that are not, which saves time and money. This cuts all the unnecessary work. 

Allows room for pitch and critique

Since storyboarding requires teamwork, it also provides everyone a chance to contribute (including non-designers) to the activity. Storytelling promotes collaboration, where each scene requires everyone to leave their reviews and create insight. This results in a clearer picture of what should be designers and promotes new design concepts.

Makes iteration simpler

Storyboarding is heavy on an iterative approach, and sketching helps UX designers experiment with a lot of things with very little or no cost at all when it comes to testing multiple design ideas simultaneously.

It is relatively easy to shut down designers, move on, or come up with a new design quickly. No one gets too attached to the generated ideas because the ideas move quickly. 


When to do storyboarding

You may wonder when you should start using storyboards in the UX design process, or a better question would be, "Does storyboard creation even right for me?" 

There are two scenarios where we recommend you apply storyboarding to your UX design:

During the discovery phase of a new product

Storyboarding is perfect for summarizing and explaining stories to users when it comes to creating a new product or service. Once you are done with user interviews or field research, you can quickly summarize your findings as well. 

While building a product

You can model the user interaction with a product based on the data you gathered from user testing, interviews, or analytics. This applies to both existing and developing products. 


Example of storyboarding scenarios

In UX, storyboarding is helpful to many product scenarios visually. Below are example storyboard sceanrios:

Mapping a whole service

This scenario refers to the overview of the whole service, which means that you pay attention to your digital product design and the design of your online and offline service. This requires several different touchpoints with the users.

You can expect several scenes to change when users interact with your product or service in this scenario. And in this complex situation, UX storyboard creation can help visualize the different scenes and user journeys in an easy, memorable, and insightful and dynamic thinking way compared to the text-based ones.

Digital products with offline events

UX designers know that when it comes to working on a digital product with a lot of offline events, the user's experience journey can become chaotic. 

Storyboard creation helps visual designers visualize these online and offline events. 


How to create a storyboard

Creating your storyboard for the first time can be a challenging task. However, just remember that they are most important as low-fidelity artifact does not take a long time to create. 

Here are the six steps to follow when it comes to creating effective storyboarding:

Step 1- Gather data

Determine which kind of data you will use for the storyboard. You may choose from user interviews, usability tests, or website metrics.

It is also possible to do a storyboard without actual data if you have not collected any data yet, especially if you want to use storyboards as a form of ideation.

Step 2- Determine the fidelity level

Always keep in mind your goal and the audience of your artifact. 

You may sketch to draw a sequence or communicate a picture to your team during the brainstorming event. For these ideation meetings, you can create storyboards in collaborative setting with sticky notes to quickly get each team's perspective. 

It is best to start discussing the timeline and the steps that your users will take. You may draw each step on a sticky note and place it on a whiteboard or wall for easy viewing for everyone. 

One person can draw, or you can assign multiple people to draw, as long as you are doing a team discussion. 

To avoid becoming overwhelmed, try to focus one step at a time. This strategy also avoids splitting the group into multiple subgroups with different discussions. 

Having multiple team members provides ideas that a single role won't necessarily think about. 

For example, a marketing team may contribute promotional steps that other groups may not think of. This strategy gives you the flexibility to alter the events by rearranging the sticky notes without redrawing the entire storyboard. The goal is to be able to create a shared understanding instead of a polished and refined artifact. 

In cases where you've recorded a usability test, and you are creating a storyboard to distill the information down, then you can make use of photos and video stills. This way, you are maximizing your time as you do not need any sketches. This strategy also adds authenticity to your storyboard. 

You may also use visual communications tools like Adobe, Canva, or Powerpoint to present storyboards to clients or create a design deliverable. 

The point of storyboards is to tell user stories. Do not spend too much time creating good visuals unless needed. 

Step 3- Define the user persona and scenario

The scenario should be particular and correspond to a single user path. This way, your storyboard does not split into multiple directions.

In cases where there are complex multipath scenarios, do the 1 to 1 rule, which is one storyboard per one path the user takes. You can expect to end up with several storyboards, each outlining a different user path.  

Step 4- Planning the steps

Write down the steps before connecting these steps with arrows and going straight to the storyboard template. It is also recommended that you add an emotional in the form of an icon to each step you define. This strategy helps determine what each visual frame will include.    

Step 5- Create visuals and add captions

It is not a prerequisite to have good illustrations or design skills when it comes to creating storyboards. An effective storyboard in UX should be able to visualize what each user path is in a very clear manner. 

An essential element to make this happen is good captions. You can add captions as bullet points underneath the visuals to describe the additional context that is not understood at first sight.

Another thing you need to note is that storyboards should be easy to modify, so it is easy for you are the UX design team to make any quick changes in further iterations if needed. 

Step 6- Distribute and iterate

Make sure that you distribute your storyboard to your audience, whether it's your internal team or the stakeholders. This is important so they can provide you with feedback. And if necessary, you can iterate over some of the steps to improve the artifact.


Conclusion

As we have previously discussed, crafting your UX storyboard does not require high drawing skills design. We are not aiming for aesthetics. The goal is to rely on the proper sequence of events presented visually.

UX storyboards help us create good product design since storyboard creation aims to understand people better. Design is made for people. 

Mary Ann Dalangin

About the author

A content marketing strategist and a UX writer with years of experience in the digital marketing industry.

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