Design thinking—

The value of storyboarding in UX design

Storyboards are a series of sequential illustrations that create a larger story. In terms of UX, storyboarding helps designers empathize and engage with users. Here are four steps to create your own storyboard.‍

3 min

Storyboards are a series of sequential illustrations that create a larger story. In terms of UX, storyboarding helps designers empathize and engage with users. Here are four steps to create your own storyboard.

Step 1: Create a character

What is your target audience? Design a persona, specifying the character’s expectations, beliefs, and behaviors. To help put yourself in the character’s shoes, run through some common choices. What is your character’s decision-making process? Understanding how your persona thinks is key to developing a valuable storyboard. Here is the character Susan from an iLost storyboard:

Step 2: Design a setting

Now that you’ve identified a character, you must identify the world they live in. Imagine the persona’s day-to-day, from waking up to going to bed. What factors influence the character’s environment? How does the user interact with this setting? Here's Susan at the park, walking with her son:

Step 3: Outline the plot

The plot should begin with a specific trigger, which is most likely a microinteraction guiding users to a subsection of your interface. The plot should end with either the benefit of your solution or a problem the character is faced with, depending on how you want to utilize the storyboard. By writing a quick one-liner for each scene, you can identify the character’s journey and thought process. Here's the iLost storyboard outline, using short descriptions to organize the overarching story:

Step 4: Draw out each scene

Now for the fun part: draw out each scene in a different frame. If you aren’t artistically inclined, don’t worry. Storyboarding is more about visualizing the user experience rather than creating a beautiful finished product. Include key factors in each frame that impact the character’s decisions and feelings.

Final Thoughts

Whether you chose to focus on the impact of a problem or the implementation of a solution, storyboarding helps designers take a human-centered approach through iteration. By following these four steps, you can further understand and cater to a user’s needs.