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How to Storyboard for UX

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Storyboarding in UX design can help you make incredible products that solve pain points.

UX designers use a wealth of UX research methods, like interviews or workshops, to improve user experience. They condense the most important research findings into user stories and show these to their design team with wireframes or user personas.

Throughout this work, it's crucial that UX designers remember that they're designing for real people, not just user personas. They need to have a deep understanding of customers' pain points and how their products can help. And that's where UX storyboards come in.

Whether you work in user research or elsewhere in the design team, this post will show you how to use UX storyboards to power your UX design process and take your customer experience to heady new heights.

Create a storyboard for your UX design in Boords.

The history of storyboarding

A storyboard's a series of drawings accompanied by a little bit of text, where each drawing represents a specific part of the story. It became popular in the motion picture production world back in the 1930s thanks to a guy called Webb Smith.

Smith, an animator at Walt Disney Studios, started drawing rough sketches of frames on different bits of paper, then stuck them up on a wall to communicate a sequence of events. Since then, plenty of people have adopted this approach in different industries – including Jake Knapp, a design bigwig who pioneered the Design Sprint at Google.

Looking for some storyboard inspiration? Check out some of our favourite storyboards.

Why you should storyboard your next UX design

A storyboard is a great way to tell user stories. When done well, it gives your team members a clearer picture of a user's emotional state, helping with prototyping solutions to issues in the user journey – especially for mobile apps.

These bullet points explain why it's the perfect partner for design concepts.

  • Visualization: A picture is worth a thousand words. Illustrating a user's experience helps people to understand it better than plain text on a page by adding extra layers of meaning.

  • Memorability: Research suggests that stories are 22 times more memorable than simple facts. By bringing the user's actions to life through a storyboard, your team's much more likely to remember what's going on.

  • Empathy: Storyboards help team members relate to user research. When UX designers draw storyboards, they tend to show characters' emotions – which helps humans like us empathize with them.

  • Engagement: Storyboarding brings your research findings to life in a way that demands attention. By putting a human face on your UX research, your team members will want to know what happens next.

There are lots of ways to create a UX storyboard. Some people like to whip out a whiteboard for a low-fidelity approach. Some stick to bullet points in a trusty notepad. We happen to think that Boords is the best tool to collaborate with team members and nail your UX storyboard. Try it free.

How to storyboard for UX design

1. Set up your storyboard

  • Go to your Boords dashboard, click New project and name it after your UX design
  • You'll be prompted to create a new storyboard – you can name that after your UX design, too
  • Click Create storyboard

2. Customize your fields

You can use custom fields to add extra information and keep all your whipsmart ideation in one place. We recommend adding a Notes field and using a nifty custom icon.

  • Click the settings cog to open the storyboard settings menu
  • Use the toggle to turn off the default Sound and Action fields
  • Add Notes and any other new fields that'll be useful for your planning

Pro-tip: Skip the setup and start with a ready-made UX storyboard template.

3. Add a frame for each moment

  • Break up the user journey into individual moments, with a frame for each
  • Each moment should provide information about the situation, like a character's decision and the outcome – whether it's a benefit or a problem
  • Label each frame so you can understand it at a glance

4. Add illustrations

Add an illustration in each frame to help tell the story. Emphasize each moment, and think of how your character feels about it. Visuals are a great way to bring a story to life, so use them wherever possible.

Don't worry if your drawing skills aren't too hot. There are oodles of stock images and handy illustrations in Boords' image editor.

  • Click Edit image
  • Add a stock image, upload your own image, or use the drawing tool to sketch
  • Use thought bubbles to show what a character's thinking
Get familiar with the basics of storytelling. We'll show you how to tell a masterful story by doing your research, inspiring people, knowing your audience, and editing like a boss. You'll also learn about our favorite movie franchise, Rocky. Learn more

5. Pack emotion into the story

It's important to show the character's emotional state during each moment. You might want to add emoticons to give a clearer picture of what your character's feeling. You can use the drawing tool to create a simple human face.

6. Add notes

Leave more information in the Notes field of each frame to give more context. You can also show a character’s thinking with thought bubbles.

7. Rearrange the frames

Now that you've got the entire story laid out, take a step back and check that everything flows correctly. Drag and drop frames if you need to tweak the order.

8. Get feedback

After you've drawn the storyboard, show it to other team members to make sure it’s clear to them.

  • Click Share in the top right of the screen
  • Copy the presentation link
  • Send the link to your team for feedback
  • Optional: click Manage people to give team members editing access

Here's to your next step in UX mastery. We bow down!

Take your user experience design to the next level with Boords

Say goodbye to fiddly storyboard templates. Boords is the simple, powerful way to storyboard for UX design.

Try Boords for free. And think of us when your app's sitting pretty at the top of the App Store charts.

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