Storytelling has the power to captivate and engage, whether it’s on the big screen or within the digital realm. Interestingly, the concept of storyboarding, often associated with the film industry, has found its way into the world of User Experience (UX) design. In both realms, storyboarding serves as a creative tool that helps envision sequences and interactions. In this article, we’ll delve into the world of storyboarding in UX design, exploring its types and real-world applications.
Lights, Camera, Action: Storyboarding in Film and UX Design
In the world of film, storyboards serve as visual blueprints that outline each scene, action, and emotion. They provide a way to plan and organize the narrative before it hits the screen. Similarly, in the realm of UX design, storyboards function as visual roadmaps that illustrate the user’s journey through a digital product or application. They help designers anticipate user interactions and pain points, ultimately contributing to an enhanced user experience.
Two Sides of the Storyboard Coin: Big Picture and Close-Up
Just like in cinema, there are two main types of storyboards in UX design: the “big picture” and the “close-up.”
1. The Big Picture Storyboard
In cinema, a big picture storyboard captures the overarching narrative and emotional arcs. In UX design, it’s about understanding the user’s experience throughout their journey with the product. This type focuses on questions like “How will users interact with the product?” and “Why will the product be beneficial to them?” Think of it as the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the user experience.
Example: Let’s consider an app that connects busy pet owners with dog walkers. A big picture storyboard might depict a user leaving for work, realizing they forgot to walk their dog, using the app to find a dog walker, and feeling relieved that their furry friend will be taken care of.
2. The Close-Up Storyboard
In cinema, a close-up shot zooms in on details, revealing emotions and expressions. In UX, the close-up storyboard delves into the product itself, showcasing how each screen or interaction flows. It answers questions like “What happens on each screen?” and “How does the user transition between screens?”
Example: For our dog walking app, a close-up storyboard could detail the user’s actions—opening the app, logging in, choosing a time for the walker, and confirming the appointment. This storyboard is about the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of the product.
Choosing the Right Storyboard: When and Why
Selecting the appropriate storyboard type depends on the design stage and the goals. A big picture storyboard is ideal for presenting high-level ideas to stakeholders early in the process. It helps focus on the user’s emotional journey and their needs. On the other hand, a close-up storyboard becomes valuable after initial design concepts have been explored. It aids in refining practical ideas and improving the product’s user interface.
Just as filmmakers use storyboards to bring their cinematic visions to life, UX designers employ storyboarding to craft exceptional digital experiences. Through big picture storyboards, they capture the emotional essence of the user journey, while close-up storyboards focus on the nitty-gritty details of the product itself. As UX designers, the ability to seamlessly switch between these two types of storyboards enhances creativity and ensures a user-centered approach. So, whether it’s the silver screen or the digital screen, storyboarding continues to be a powerful tool that tells a captivating story—one interaction at a time.