If you struggle with bringing new ideas for products to fruition, consider storyboarding. Soryboards can help your design and development process in a big way. They also help ensure everyone involved in your project is on the same page. Once you consider the benefits of storyboarding when it comes to product creation, you might decide to make it a permanent part of your business strategy.
What Is Storyboarding, and Why Is It Important?
When creating a new product, lots of inputs are needed to make it a reality, such as labour and enterprise. But before you spend any money on these, you should visualize the completed product through a storyboard. A storyboard uses a sequence of illustrations in squares, similar to the panels of a comic strip, to lay out the design of a product so that designers, advertisers, engineers, and anyone else involved in making or selling it knows what to do.
Storyboarding lays out the entire user experience of the product for everyone in the company to debate in fine detail. In the long run, storyboards save your business time and money. That’s because it’s much more cost-effective to spend days or weeks making a perfect storyboard before going into production than to make changes to the product after it’s been prototyped and manufactured, which can also involve a huge time delay.
What Tools Are Needed to Storyboard?
You don’t need fancy tools to make a storyboard. Paper and pencils do the trick, though a whiteboard might be easier. If your business has computers with presentation software, such as PowerPoint or Keynote, you can use those, too. Image and graphics software, such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, can make the illustration process easier. Storyboarding software is also available at a reasonable price.
No matter what tools you use, you don’t need to be a professional artist to make a useful storyboard. Making the broad strokes is what’s important for designers and engineers, as this tells them how to create the finished product. A storyboard should be detailed, but it doesn’t have to be pretty.
When Are Storyboards Appropriate?
Storyboards aren’t always appropriate. If you already have an established product and just want to add a feature or two, a storyboard might be overkill, since the product’s design and user experience are already deeply embedded. Storyboards are more useful when your business wants to build a product from the ground up. Developing the seed of an idea into a fully functional product is the best reason to use a storyboard.
How Do You Storyboard?
Start on paper, even if you plan to use storyboarding software, since the first draft of a product storyboard is usually cluttered and in need of edits. Rarely does a storyboard result in a perfect product design on the first pass. Plus, paper and pencil is just faster in the beginning and lets you more easily involve a group of designers. Once a draft is complete, a more refined computer storyboard might be a good idea. Then you can send the storyboard to designers and engineers.
Before drawing anything, invite your design group to brainstorm logical methods for laying out the product’s features. You might have each person scribble a brief proto-storyboard on their own sheet of paper and tape the sheets to the wall so everyone can evaluate them. The best ideas from each sheet should form the basis of the storyboard proper.
To start the main storyboard, draw a few large squares on a whiteboard or large sheet of paper, similar to what you’d see in a comic strip. Inside the squares, sketch the product and its features. Does the product come packaged? How does that packaging look and feel, and how does it open? Draw as many product features as you can think of, taking care to sequence each illustration in a logical and easy-to-visualize way.
Once the customer has the product in hand, what can they do with it? Sketch what happens when the user interacts with your product. If the product has a digital interface, show this in detail. If your product slides open, flips open, folds, twists, bends, lights up, vibrates, or performs any other function, sketch it out in a new square. Link important squares with arrows. For example, if the product lights up when the user touches a button, you might draw a finger pushing a button in one square and the product lighting up in another, then an arrow between the two showing the actions are connected.
Storyboard the entire user experience of your product, from the moment the user receives it to when they open it, use it, and store it in their house or business. Only once the entire product is laid out can you make refinements easily, using the advice of designers. The more care you put into your storyboard, the fewer roadblocks you face during the design and development of the prototype.
A storyboard is a visual plan for a new product, either on paper or in a digital file. Storyboards illustrate how the entire product is used by the customer. Storyboarding saves your business time and money by letting employees debate the product’s features before a prototype is built. The next time you have an idea for a product, make sure you storyboard it.