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Last updated on 12/12/19

Storyboard to Bring Experiences to Life

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Imagine scenarios with storyboards

Storyboarding is likely something you're familiar with – think of comic strips, or even the different camera shots of a movie scene progressing. But storyboarding probably isn't something you incorporate into your day-to-day life.

Storyboarding is a visual way to tell a story. Unlike simple sketches and mind maps, storyboards can be highly effective at both establishing context and presenting a realistic scenario. Storyboards will help you communicate ideas to team members and stakeholders. 

Tips for creating a storyboard:

  • Determine the key element(s) or experience you want to communicate.

  • Put yourself (or a product user) into the scenario.

  • Include visual cues to establish context and setting.

  • Consider whether you will tell the story with one frame or a series of frames.

  • Give the storyboard a title.

  • Date your drawing (this can be small- it's more of a point of reference for the future).

  • Develop a narrative you will talk through when presenting your storyboard.

  • Don't overthink it – it's impressive how much you can communicate in just a few minutes of drawing.

Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia presented how Airbnb uses storyboarding at the conference 99U in NYC. [20:27 minutes; it's recommended to watch the entire video as a strong example in storytelling, but storyboarding starts around 9 minutes] 

Now it's time for a storyboarding exercise. The exercise is more effective when you team up with a friend, family member, or an eager stranger at a café. 

  1. Each participant folds a piece of paper into thirds (like you would fold a letter to put it into an envelope). At the top of the thirds, write PAST – PRESENT – FUTURE. 

  2. Set a timer and give yourselves 10 minutes to storyboard your lives in three frames. (If possible, include a 1-minute warning.) Sketch a visual that represents something about your past (left), your current situation (middle) and your future (right). (It's OK to use your imagination and dream big for the future!) Either through a few words or images, make sure you establish context or setting for each frame.

  3. Take turns presenting your storyboards to the partner(s) (max. 3 minutes each). Sharing your work is an important skill to get comfortable with even if you're talking through preliminary or unpolished ideas. 

  4. Don't forget to date your work! Who knows, this could become an important article in your future...

 How does storyboarding benefit a UX Designer?

Unplugging from your computer and working through the ideas on paper may be just what you need in order to move to the next step of your project. Storyboarding can be a great aid in uncovering a concept, teaching how a process works, or pitching an idea. Don't forget, not everyone learns in the same manner. Storyboards are a great way to make information relevant and accessible to the audience. 

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement