What are Storyboards:

    • Storyboards can take various shapes and sizes:
      • they can be one or more panels;
      • they can be a single comic page-style scenario;
      • they can be emotive-based or function-based.
    • Storyboards visualize the experience and often have a description to further explain the scenario:
      • they show action and should express emotion when appropriate;
      • both narrative and image should be interdependent and shouldn’t be redundant;
      • storyboards should be an honest representation of the persona’s journey.

Example UX Storyboards (from the web)

Example UX Storyboard (for HP Sprocket—me)

Why Use Storyboards:

Storyboards visualize an experience and encourage the viewer to empathize with the persona and journey:

    • to discover or uncover holes within the story;
    • to craft a better, more fulfilling outcome for the persona;
    • to increase the designer’s understanding of how the persona’s story will unfold;
    • to lead to new insights into the experience;
    • to elevate the abstract concept into a concrete image—which by the nature of images aids in increasing empathy.

Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling:

“For me, excitement has a different source: I am watching an amazing neural ballet in which a story line changes the activity of people’s brains…

Oxytocin is produced when we are trusted or shown a kindness, and it motivates cooperation with others. It does this by enhancing the sense of empathy, our ability to experience others’ emotions. Empathy is important for social creatures because it allows us to understand how others are likely to react to a situation, including those with whom we work.”

Zak, Paul J. “Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling.” Harvard Business Review, November 5, 2014. 

Successful printing UX storyboard (me)

Representational storyboard (me)

The Purpose of Storyboards for UX:

The primary purpose of UX storyboards is to help guide UX/IX designers (and stakeholders) through scenarios with the intent of crafting better UX by:

    • honestly, visualizing the persona’s journey;
    • developing empathy for the persona—to relate to their experience;
    • visually engaging in the persona’s story. (This step helps drive better experiences and aid’s in partner alignment.)

Persona delima (me)

User Fail Arc

User Story Arc:

The user’s resolution should always bring them to a better/higher place than when they began. Poor UX will leave the user in a similar or lower place as when they started.

    • We can map a User’s story arc in different ways. We can focus on:
      • Researching something;
      • Buying something;
      • Unboxing something;
      • Setting up something;
      • Using something;
      • Contacting support about something;
      • Researching something different;
      • Returning something;
      • etc.

Fail Paths:

    • Storyboarding provides an inexpensive opportunity to explore and empathize with a persona’s failure journey.
    • Experiences often fail users. For example:
      • a user may open all the contents when they need to open one at a time;
      • they began with one object when they needed to start with a different one;
      • they misunderstand the marketing speak and angrily have to return an item once they get home.

User Fail Arc

Types of UX Storyboards:

UX storyboards are divided into two primary categories:

Emotional storyboards

  • How does the persona feel?
  • Was the persona’s hope dashed or exceeded?

Functional storyboards

  • What did/should the persona do?
  • Was the persona successful or unsuccessful

Emotional Storyboard (Scott Brown)

Functional Storyboard (me)

Critical UX

The Desired Outcome:

    • Depicting a critical understanding of a user’s actual journey;
    • An honest storyboard reminds its viewers that at any moment, in any experience, the persona can do something different;
    • Minimizes prototype costs and ensures a crafted user experience to guide the persona toward the best outcome.

Who Uses UX Storyboards:

A few companies who express using storyboarding for UX.

      • NNGroup: “In the world of UX, we use storyboards to provide additional context to our teams and stakeholders. Using images makes the story quick to understand at first glance and easy to remember.”
      • AirBNB: “We always thought about our website and the steps someone goes through to book, but what the storyboard made clear is that we were missing a big part of the picture—the offline experience—that’s an even more meaningful part of using Airbnb than booking a property.”
      • Google: “The Storyboard method unifies the entire Design Sprint team on the prototype concept and helps the group make critical decisions during the prototyping process. A Storyboard maps out each step of the experience that you want to test and clarifies the pieces you need to prototype.” Here

A Success Path

Explain a new feature 

How Might We Use Storyboards:

    • user experience reviews should continue throughout the product development cycle;
    • storyboarding fits perfectly into review conversations regarding ideation or solutions;
    • early and mid reviews: explore radically different ideas;
    • later user-testing choice points: single solutions can be explored;
    • depicting how removing features might impact the user.

Where Do We Begin?

    • An interaction or user experience designer doesn’t have to know how to draw (though this does help):
      • a non-user-experience artist may not understand the need for nuanced interaction signals
    • If the user experience designer doesn’t have the needed skills
      • free or inexpensive tools exist which can aid in creating storyboards 
      • stick figures can be used to develop initial storyboard explorations
      • once the initial draft is defined and refined, hiring or using someone with solid drawing skills is recommended

Simple PPT Storyboard

One Panel Storyboard with Description

How Storyboards Can Be Used:

There are multiple, excellent, opportunities for using storyboards:

    • ideating a concept,
    • radical ideas to be researched,
    • typical user scenarios (e.g., bathroom UX),
    • heuristic exploration,
    • emotional journey,
    • specific issue needing research because a hypothesis exists
    • concepting research results

Storyboarding for UX