Importance of Storyboarding in Product Development

Muskan Jain
6 min readJan 12, 2023

“ I do all my work by storyboard, so as I draw the storyboard, the world gets more and more complex, and as a result, my North, South, East, and West directions kind of shift and go off base, but it seems like my staff as well as the audience, does not quite realise that this has happened. Do not tell them about it.”

As quoted by Hayao Miyazaki

The dictionary meaning of a storyboard is a series of drawings that lay out the sequence of scenes in a film. Hayao Miyazaki is a masterful storyteller and celebrated animator who works on his storyboards. As an animation film graduate, I have adored Miyazaki films and have studied them frame by frame. However, my storyboarding application for product development in Havells has been different, with contrasting goals.

Hayao Miyazaki’s Storyboards

UX Storyboards are similar to film storyboards. They are pencil drawings or digital illustrations, usually with minimal colour or grayscale to indicate shadows and contrast. Today, these storyboards are standard in the advertising and movie industry as they can be used for early changes and storyboards. UX storyboards are a big part of the creative process for product development.

Storyboards are used in different design domains such as animation and cartoon production, filmmaking and television, product design, design research, anything that involves telling a story to the client, for businesses, customer journey mapping, user experience design, instructional design, new product requirement definitions, sprint planning in the agile software development life cycle, product discovery workshops and strategic sessions.

As part of the customer experience design studio at Havells, I have worked on multiple storyboards for over three years for product development. Our team here has worked on the user stories, which I illustrate later to draw storyboards. While working on storyboards, our team keeps customers at the core of our process. This helps us understand their needs better and build products efficiently.

Here is a brief account of five reasons why crafting a storyboard is important for product development in a customer-centric design studio.

1. Storyboards help in the visualisation of the end-to-end product development process.

(Above) Storyboard for a product concept

Product vision and experience are defined by visualisation through storyboards. The user’s actions and emotions during each interaction are visualised through storyboards, leading to a better user experience. Storyboards also provide a clear concept of what our product looks like by removing simple miscommunications.

2. Storyboards help add emotion to product development

In another storyboard for a TV App I had worked on, the storyboard illustrated experiences and put the limelight on target personas.

(Above) Storyboard for a TV App

This TV app storyboard shows the user’s needs and goals achieved using the product. In the last frame, we see how the user feels elated after having the product delivered to his home. It shows the benefits of conveying emotional experiences in the storyboard. One of the objectives to keep in mind while creating storyboards is to let the audience be able to empathise and relate to the people in the story. That is where emotions play a significant role.

3. Storyboards help build stories around new product concepts.

“ Storyboards in product development help envision what end users will experience using the product.”

As quoted in the book Product Development: Principles and tools for creating desirable and transferable designs by Carl D. Sorensen and Christopher A. Mattson

Product designers use storyboards to break their products into individual segments, which allows them to work on one aspect of a product exclusively.

The user experience of a product is shown effectively to project stakeholders, other team members or potential end users through visuals. Planning a meaningful experience for the end users in the development process requires storyboarding. The problem statement is described well with the help of storyboards, and the product development becomes seamless with the creation of storyboards throughout the process.

For such a project at Havells, I worked on various storyboards showing multiple scenarios where a product is needed. The storyboards include visuals accompanied by captions. This helps to get a big-picture understanding of how the product is supposed to function.

(Above) Storyboard for a product concept

(Above) In another storyboard for a product concept, I have shown the process from the time the user buys the product, the installation stage, to various use cases of the product.

4. Storyboards also describe the product’s user personas well.

The personality of the user of the product can be shown through storyboards. Storyboards highlight how the users interact with the product and show how the user feels while interacting with the product. Storyboarding also helps create a customer journey map of a product’s target personas. We understand how the product is used step-by-step by getting into the shoes of the user; the problem and solution are found accordingly, and the next step is product implementation. Following are a few questions that help us know the target personas better and understand their needs/everyday actions -

  • What user characteristics influence their product usage?
  • Which features are necessary for the user?
  • Which features are desirable?
  • What are their important concerns? Are you able to tackle them?

Hence, the user is the hero of the story, and we need to storyboard that journey sequentially so that the user is guided seamlessly on their product journey.

(Above) User scenario of a few co-workers taking a tea break in the office.

For another product story at Havells, I highlighted the personas and users through storyboards, as seen above.

5. Storyboards help document the existing user experience of a product.

Storyboards help make a new product feel more familiar and intuitive by understanding the existing habits and processes and documenting them. We can identify weaknesses, note features that work well and document them in a storyboard, mainly influencing the user experience of a product. Following are a few questions that get addressed through storyboards regarding the user experience of a product -

  1. How will users learn about our product or service in the first place?
  2. Before buying and using the product, what decisions will they have to make?
  3. Using what ways will the user buy the product?
  4. Show the experience the user had with the product the first time.
  5. What is their usage pattern of the product?
  6. How does it benefit the user to use your product?
(Above) Storyboard for Havells Sync App

(Above) In one of the storyboards for a Havells Sync App, I showed who the user is, how he discovered the App and finally, how he gave the feature suggestions in the App.

Conclusion

Storyboarding is vital for product development because it brings people together for product-related discussions and works well for small and large teams. They are illustrated graphically in an easy-to-understand manner to show how users will interact with your application. They make it easy to remember which features are important and which the user should focus on. The whole team shares the knowledge of these storyboards, which ultimately leads to productive conversations about the product. Broadly, storyboards help us to empathise with our users by shifting the focus of our internal bias and driving user behaviour. To conclude, through storyboarding, the whole team arrives at a common ground on what is needed and works on actionable items for the product.

We are open to hiring new talent. If you are a Visual Designer interested in joining a diverse team of creatives to learn and develop, please reach out to us at ananya.vetal@havells.com, muskan.jain@havells.com and vikas1.yadav@havells.com with your CV And portfolio.

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