Storyboarding for innovation

Storyboards are a powerful innovation tool that anyone can use to increase their innovation output. Storyboards were originally a tool used in the film industry to give a pictorial representation of the story that was to be filmed. Storyboards have slowly but surely started to infiltrate into many other industries and areas in business.

In the film industry each proposed film shot was represented by a storyboard frame. Each frame contains a quick diagram illustrating the main concept and what the film shot will look like. A small description of the shot or scene was also written underneath the frame.

Having a storyboard means that a film production team can plan, co-ordinate and communicate their intended film shoot quickly and effectively whilst telling a visual story.

It wasn't too long until advertisers were quick to latch onto storyboards, as it works well in complimenting copy writing for advertisements (whether they are motion based or for print). Once again the value is in communicating the execution of what they are thinking.

Another key value for creating storyboards is that it forces people to consider what a viewer or customer will experience for a specific period of time. Storyboarding is a tool that can be used to design an 'experience'. 

In business our customers encounter numerous 'touch point' experiences with our product or people. Using storyboards to design what those experiences may be, enables you to create a superior experience that adds more value. This is innovative thinking in action.

There are two specific professions that are using storyboards more and more everyday. They are Designers and UX designers. Interior designers will often storyboard a journey through a building, whilst a UX designer will storyboard the user experience of a digital device or the user exerience of visiting a digital store. Both use the same storyboard tool to create the best user experience possible.

If you want to start creating better value for your customers or team then start to consider how to use storyboards to design the user experience you want them to encounter.

Here's 7 ways to storyboard anything in your business.

  1. Print out a landscape format sheet with three rows of five rectangular blocks on it (Most word processing files will have a storyboard template what will enable you to add pictures and words so that you can create a storyboard swiftly and simply.)

  2. Identify an interaction or experience that you want to improve

  3. Start to draw or sketch the experience in each frame - for example someone opening the home page of your website may be frame no.1

  4. Write some points beneath the frame to explain what is happening

  5. Continue the process with the next touch point experience for the next frame and all the other subsequent touch points

  6. Review your story board, could the experience be any better? If yes, redraw what might need to change or add more frames if required

  7. Do you need to add anymore detail to the elements or flow? If so add another frame to help explain

Storyboarding is not about creating a piece of artwork, it's about mapping out an experience and then looking at ways to design an even better one. If you don't feel you have enough drawing skills, that really shouldn't stop you from storyboarding as even stick figures can work. If all else fails you can add photo's or images to the storyboard as it progresses.

I use storyboards regularly for all kinds of experiences - from designing a customer experience at a workshop, to helping a client reinvent their customer experience at their business.

The bottom line is that if you're not designing a brilliant experience frame by frame, you're leaving a lot of that experience to chance, and that's a risky thing indeed. Start designing today, and good luck with your storyboards.



Nils Vesk

Founder of Ideas with Legs | Innovation speaker | consultant | author

nils vesk