3 ways to use Storyboarding for Product Development

Joshua Bumcrot

Storyboard That is an online storyboard creator, that allows users to either create their own storyboards from scratch or use one of our premade templates to start creating today.

3 ways to use Storyboarding for Product Development

When you think of the concept of storyboarding, you probably think of film, media, or sketching out boxes on a piece of paper to portray scenes. Why does storyboarding have to be confined to the entertainment industry? How can we use it for developing our products in a quick and cost-effective manner? In this article I’ll show you the value of storyboarding for product development, improving communication, and UX design.

Creating Customer Journey Maps and User Personas

Before designing a product, you must first understand exactly what problem it is that your product will be solving. If there is no problem, then there will be no demand for your product. Hypothesizing what the problem is you’re solving can be time-consuming and expensive, which is why creating customer journey maps can be a great place to start. Think of a customer journey map as a linear story of your target user that runs through a scenario common to them where they encountering the problem your product is trying to solve. Once the customer has encountered their problem, the journey will lead them to come across your product as the solution, eventually alleviating their problem altogether and making them a happy user. Creating these customer journey maps allows you to start exploring ways that potential customers will come in contact with your product, how they plan on using it, and what barriers they may face to achieving their goals. The next question is, how do I know who my target users are?

For any one product, there are many potential customers and use-case scenarios. The best way to narrow your efforts down to focus on your core target users is to create key user personas. A user persona is a prototypical user matching certain criteria. Two basic examples are:

Developer Dave

Dave is a software engineer and practical thinker. He has 5-10 years’ work experience and manages a small team. Dave is often looking for ways to improve his team’s productivity, and sometimes has trouble communicating ideas to other departments.

Marketer Mark

Mark is growth-driven, and money-hungry. He is always biasing towards increasing traffic and sales in the short term and tends to focus less on long-term planning. Mark has lots of ideas, but sometimes has trouble implementing them and designing a way to test if his ideas are successful.

Having a real visual to associate with your user personas is key. It reminds you that your users are real people, not numbers, and their needs and motivations will change over time. It’s important to constantly be checking in on your user personas to make sure they’re still accurate and update them when new information becomes available. Create as many user personas as you can think of, then try to combine similar ones. Then pick 3-5 who you believe are most common to your business – these are your key user personas. It’s great business practice to make sure that you are always leveraging the majority of your marketing efforts towards these users.

Improving Internal Interdepartmental Communication

When designing a new product, it’s essential to work across departments, leverage everyone’s skillset, and reach consensus on what you want the final product to be. It’s all too common for Marketer Mark to have a miscommunication with Developer Dave who has a miscommunication with Creative Chris, and so on. The easiest and simplest way to avoid these miscommunications, while streamlining your product development process, is to create storyboards. Storyboards are clear, unambiguous visuals that display one message for your audience. All departments see the same storyboard, and clearly understand what Marketing wants the product to achieve, how Tech wants the product to function, and how Creative wants the product to look.

Creating storyboards is also a great way to critique and battle test some of your product ideas. These storyboards are not personal to the creator, making it easy to attack some of the flaws in the product. All teams can sit down together, brainstorm what they like about the storyboard and what needs to improve, all while being able to physically point to the areas they’re referring to so any chance of miscommunication or misunderstanding is minimalized.

Designing UX and Product User Flow

The third, and perhaps most valuable, use of storyboards in the product development process is for UX design. It is often useful to think of the user experience as a step-by-step linear path the user must take in order to complete a certain task or achieve a particular objective. Having a functional, streamlined, and simple UX is essential to maximizing your conversion rate and minimalizing churn. Creating storyboards to plan out and test UX concepts is the best way to avoid making easy mistakes. Creating a storyboard, cell by cell, with each cell representing one step in the UX process forces you to experience your product like a customer would. It will display any potential UX holes you may have or point out superfluous steps that only waste the user’s time.

Usually, testing out different UX concepts is time-consuming and expensive, but creating storyboards can be as short as a few minutes and requires very little overhead. Storyboarding is the most effective way to test out multiple UX concepts, send them to colleagues or potential users, and start to incorporate their feedback in your product development process.

A great way to start storyboarding your UX concepts is by creating wireframes. Wireframes are skeletal designs of what you want a webpage to look like and how you want it to operate. It is the fastest way to create a visual representation of your idea, without paying the cost of creating images or coming up with ideas for copy. Wireframes are a great way to explore multiple UX themes and can be created by anyone, in any department. Here are some examples:

Now that you have the Knowledge on How to Use Storyboards For Product Development – It’s Time to Create Your Own.

  • Create a product vision storyboard. How does your product work and what does it do?
  • Create a few user personas. Work with your team to figure out who our target users are, and what problems/motivations that have.
  • Create customer journey maps for your user personas. Place yourself in their shoes, and discover how they would use your product.
  • Run through the step-by-step UX of your product, what steps do your users need to take in order to reach their goal or attain their objective?
  • Create UI designs and mockups to give your product a clean and clear feel.
  • Let your product go live, listen to user feedback and incorporate it into your iteration process. Refer back to your storyboards to isolate which aspects of your product must be improved according to your users.

Start from scratch, or use any of the templates below to get started!

Product Solution Benefit Template

Persona Template

AIDAOR Template

About Storyboard That

Storyboard That is an online storyboard creator, that allows users to either create their own storyboards from scratch or use one of our premade templates to start creating today. You don’t need to be an artist to create with Storyboard That – we offer hundreds of pieces of premade art for you to work with, as well as design layouts and background scenes. Add your friends and colleagues and start a two-week free trial today!

Thanks to sungong from Shutterstock for allowing me to use this image.