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Studio Fra

Studio Fra is a boutique UX design consultancy which specialises in crafting digital experiences and brand strategy for clients of all sizes. For more information visit www.studiofra.com

“The storyboard’s primary value is that it forces you to have a reason for, and a consistent approach to, everything you do.”

– David Becker
You might have heard of the term ‘storyboarding’. Traditionally, the term refers to planning a film shoot before the actual filming takes place. This gives a clearer idea to the creators and avoids chaos during the process of shooting. We can call it the blueprint of the film.
Although storyboarding may have originated elsewhere, it is important in the field of UX design. Emphasising the significance of user research, storyboarding takes it a step further. We have often discussed about aspects to make the user experience positive like conducting surveys and interviews or designing prototypes to get a clear picture. Customer journey mapping is another aspect in UX design. However, storyboarding helps to truly dive into the minds of the user as they hypothetically interact with the application.
Essentially, while designing UX, designers are creating a narrative for the users to interact with – much like the narrative in a movie. It supports visual interpretation and understanding of the UX design. In this article, we shall go through why storyboarding is important in UX design and how a UX designer can implement it in his or her process.

Why Storyboarding?

Some people might ask the question that UX designers use customer journey maps and personas to predict exactly the same thing as storyboards do. What’s so special about storyboarding that it can one-up other research methods?
One thing we need to remember is that storyboards are actual stories that UX designers create in order to craft intuitive designs. In this manner, they do include persona. Storyboarding converts analytical data into a human-centred approach to research where designers can easily step into the shoes of the user as the story builds. This enables them to not only understand the existing scenarios but be prepared for potential scenarios as well. A UX storyboard also concentrates on the emotions that users go through rather than features. Although the features of an application are equally important, sometimes, the feelings that a user experiences while interacting with the application or website are left behind. Being able to tap into the right emotion comes with good and clear storyboarding which in turn helps in building a positive user experience.
Storyboarding is usually done in a group setting where the entire team of designers help create it. This allows room for constructive criticism and fresh ideas since all the information is visually available to them. Thus, storyboarding supports team-building and innovation. Moreover, storyboarding is also a process that requires constant changes. It’s a trial and error method to see what works, thereby letting the UX designers experiment at little or no cost.
Lastly, storyboard are visual elements that are almost always easy to access for UX designers. This enables them to continually have a flow of thoughts based on their UX design and easily make changes. Moreover, it helps designers remember the entire design in an easier and clearer manner.

How to Create a Storyboard?

There are a few steps to keep in mind while creating a storyboard that is useful. Although it may differ from designer to designer, these are some of the common elements in the process.
  • The first step is data collection and research. Even though storyboarding is an aspect of in UX design, it essentially portrays analytical data from research in a visual form.
  • The second step is to define the flow of your storyboard. One application or website may have several paths that a user can take during interaction. Choosing the important ones will help you focus on them.
  • The third step is creating the story. Thinking of a character, a scene and a plot line are elements of writing a general story that also helps in UX storyboarding. As we mentioned before, adding a human face helps in the process.
  • The fourth step is to add emotions. A UX designer must think about the emotions that a user might experience while interacting with certain features of the application or website to make any further changes to the UX design.
  • The last step is to create the storyboard itself. This is basically putting all the research, characters, plot line and emotions together to string a flow of thoughts to implement while building the UX design.
A critical side note to remember is that you don’t need drawing skills to create a UX storyboard. It is a common misconception that a designer needs to be able to draw in order to create an effective storyboard. In reality, the designer’s role is not to draw well but to generate a narrative that is clear and understandable in a visual form. The human figures can even be in the form of stick figures – but the story needs to be narrated well. At the end of the day, the storyboard isn’t created to show a designer’s drawing skills, but it is to show the research behind the UX design that helps the designer build it. UX storyboarding is an essential tool in every UX designer’s tool kit.
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