UX Playground — Scenarios & Storyboards in UX Design

UX Playground — An engaging meetup

This was the second time, I attended a UX Playground meeting, and it is not gonna be the last time. What I find great about these meetups, is the fact that the participants actually learn. Forget your usual lecture, where the speaker talks through the topic for hours, ending into having half of the room leaving and the other half sleeping! UX Playground, lead by founder and UX Design Consultant Chakib Labidi, decided to take a different approach: engagement!In fact, isn’t engagement key to successful User-Centered Design?The way the meetup is structured is different to most of the meetups I have been to.What I find fascinating, is that Chakib uses the same principles that he teaches, for delivering his events.It is a unique mix of brilliant demonstrations, real life examples, Q&A and enjoyable hands-on exercises.

The heart of the meetup

Scenarios and Storyboards was the topic of this meeting, where Chakib Labidi, introduced us to how these techniques can help to improve the quality of our designs.

What are scenarios and storyboards? Why do we need them? How do they help focussing on the needs of the users? How do they integrate with the rest of our design?

Chakib, talked through all of this, satisfying participants curiosity by answering their questions, I guess, at least 30 questions throughout the whole meeting. Isn’t that interactive? What I particularly love about this, is that he speaks from experience, he actually suggests solutions based on his personal experience, why it works and why not. And this is great news for junior designers, such as myself, because once you get to the problem, you know a priori how to deal with it. But the best part are the exercises set for the topic. Participants are organised in groups where they join their minds into putting into practise what they’ve just learned. Each group is then given personal feedback and suggestions. Isn’t that great?

What I learned — Scenarios

Scenarios, are detailed stories of what users do with the product and how they achieve their goal. This is gathered through the analysis of users who come to your website/use your app and understanding why they want to use your product.

But why are they essential to our process of User-Centred Design? Because they aim to focus on what people really want or need. In addition, they are a very powerful tool to test and communicate your idea, allowing you to design a more efficient UI.

There’s little, but very important difference between user stories, scenarios and use cases.

  1. User stories are data gathered from multiple sources and meshed together to form a unique entity where the needs of everyone are summed up into one single story. This is a step taken during the requirement gathering during an Agile process.
  2. Use cases simply describe the flow of actions taken to reach an end point. In other words, every step to accomplish something. E.g. open the app > click on search > type cats > like the picture. They are written for developers to understand how to code the product.
  3. Scenarios are very detailed stories that are used by researchers to uncover how the users perceive the product, what are the steps that involve completing tasks and what’s the motivation behind it. This is a really important step during requirement gathering as it leads to new discoveries that haven’t been thought before. While creating a scenario, an average of 6–8 steps should be taken as otherwise it becomes way too long, and therefore redundant or too short and therefore not containing enough informations.

What I learned — Storyboards

Storyboards add the visual components to scenarios. They are great as they visually represent a story and emphasise the details that otherwise could be missed by simple text.

It is also an opportunity to sketch the basic UI components needed to achieve the goal, without going into too much detail. It also helps to show the interactions that users have while using the product. It is very good to create multiple storyboards, one for each device it is used on. E.g. a website has to be responsive by nowadays standards, and is good to show interactions for each device.

Chakib gave us 5tips to follow, in order to create great storyboards:

  1. Don’t be afraid of drawing, you don’t need to be an artist to create a storyboard — try different techniques until you have found one that works best for you
  2. Create a panel for each change of scene, or interaction
  3. Number each panel (which I obviously missed out)
  4. Note only important steps
  5. Mark down important features

Conclusions — What do I think?

UX Playground is a great opportunity for junior but as well as senior designers and researchers to come together and share their views, their thoughts, their solutions and learn about interesting topics. This is all led by the expertise of Chakib Labidi that guides the attendees through a “journey” that explores theory, practises and methods. It is sided by sharing his and other people experiences to help anyone interested into the subject to have better understanding of UX design and therefore come up with better solutions.

As I already mentioned, the beauty of this meetup is how engaging it is, I personally love the idea that we can form in groups and work together on a exercise studied purposely for the topic. Not only that, is a great way to networking with other UX Designers, share opinions, ideas and grow.

I can’t wait to attend the next Meetup where the topic will be “Flowcharts — Designing systems that make sense” the 12th of December. You can join the meetup here.