A storyboard is a series of drawings or pictures that visualise a particular sequence of events. This might include a common situation where a service is used, or the hypothetical implementation of a new service prototype. One common example of storyboarding uses comic strips to graphically represent steps in a service or process experience.
Why is it used?
Storyboards do exactly what the title implies — they allow stories about user experiences to be brought into the design process. The kinds of stories used are those that provide a perspective on a service or prototype — they’re a way to encapsulate the experiences of people using the service. By putting a service situation in its proper context — even if it’s still a prototype that doesn’t physically exist yet —storyboards can be used to provoke meaningful analysis, sparking discussions about potential problems and areas of opportunity. The process of creating them meanwhile forces designers into the shoes of the people using a service, which again helps to bring that perspective into the design process.
When is it helpful?
Useful for introducing a new concept and provoke discussions without the need for lengthy introduction.
How is it applied?
Storyboards can be constructed in a number of different ways. The most common is the comic-strip format, in which a designer will create a series of illustrations that tell the story of the situation being examined. The designer will try and include as many contextual details as possible here, so that anyone viewing it will be able to quickly grasp what it is going on.
The aim of the storyboard is to gain insights into the user experience being depicted. Either real-life or imaginary scenarios can be used, with the former occasionally being documented in photographs as opposed to illustrations.
When used in a collaborative or workshop setting, the storyboard should be able to convey the key aspects of a service or prototype in as straightforward a manner as possible. This often means presenting a short illustrated scenario in which the service is being used, which might incorporate several contrasting outcomes.
This can then be presented to a group of designers or potential customers, with the aim of provoking a discussion about what seems to work and what doesn’t.
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