Leveraging storyboarding for early validation
Storyboarding is easily seen as another one of those “UX” checklist items but where once this tools place in design was very much established for use alongside prototypes or communication purposes it’s role has started to progressively change into being a powerful tool for early validation and lightning speed alignment. I have only just come to realise the importance of the use this tool early on in recent weeks by using it in practice during very early stages of a project.
First things first; communication is the key element here. Storyboarding is all about the level of communication you would like to achieve and to who the audience of the storyboard will be. Don’t get too caught up in the technical details, instead focus on the story and really drive some emotion out of it — make sure to mention who it is for, what it does and why it’s useful! — for more info on how to construct these storyboards check out this link:
So, assuming we are at a pretty early stage in our design approach we are always looking to generate big ideas, validate + repeat. Storyboarding is one of the most useful tools that can be used within this ideation loop to encourage alignment.
It’s often the case that once we have finished ideating there are a bunch of winning concepts but each team member has a pretty different idea of the visualisation of that concept, by framing that concept within a storyboard it allows the team to see what each team member see’s in that specific concept. I’m not talking anything long, drawn out of fancy just six action steps each on separate post its with small diagrams on to visually communicate how you see the concept.
“Focus on telling the story and communicating the value of the concept. Details can always be figured out later.”
Once presenting each storyboard to the team it’s then a great exercise to put your storyboards together to form a ‘master’ concept that will act as the basis for an aligned concept. This aligned concept then becomes much more coherent and easier to explain whilst trying to earn validation from users as each team member is focused and aligned on what the concept is delivering through the action steps.
Although this method utilises storyboarding in a way that is quick and flexible it’s important to remember that these stages are still pretty low fidelity, discussion on feasibility and in depth details are often more than not appropriate — instead focus on telling the story of a solution to communicate it’s value — details can always be figured out later and are perhaps best for stakeholders not users.