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What is storyboarding and why you should do it?

Introduction

All the product managers with whom I have ever interacted have unilaterally emphasized the importance to understand users, ask them the right questions, understand their journey and to find their hidden behaviours. But it is easier said than done.

To make sure that they are hitting the right nail, many PMs use a method called “Rapid Prototyping”. It is a process of making several low fidelity mock-ups to validate the concept, collect feedback on it, incorporate the feedback and then start the process all over again. These mockups need not be your final or the fanciest product but what you really want is something quick to make that validates the problem you are solving and the solution that you are proposing. There are many common prototyping methods like paper prototyping, storyboarding, digital mockups, video prototyping etc. In this article, we are going to talk about, storyboarding.

What?

Storyboarding put in simple words is trying to see how your product fits in the story(life) of the user. It takes you from a setting(need/pain point/opportunity) to satisfaction. There are basically three main components of a storyboard-

  1. People
  2. Environment
  3. Task being accomplished

A good storyboard should answer the following questions-

  1. What are the different steps involved in the user journey?
  2. What leads someone to use the product? (Motivation to use the product)
  3. At which particular point in the user’s journey is your product used? (Trigger)
  4. What does it enable people to accomplish?
  5. Which gap in the system is your product filling?

Examples

Let’s look at some examples, in fact, these were my very first storyboards-

  1. 1-Way Card
Story of Ria- a daily commuter who uses different modes of transport to go from A to B
Story of Ria- a daily commuter who uses different modes of transport to go from A to B

Here, our protagonist is Ria, a daily commuter who needs to go from A to B and for that she uses a combination of different modes of public transport like bus, locals and metro. She starts her journey by purchasing a ticket for the local train, there she goes through the ordeal of standing in a long queue and waiting for her turn. When she reaches her intermediate stop, she hops on a bus and there she is required to pay in cash down to the exact change. After reaching the metro station she had to again stand in a queue for buying a ticket.

Then she gets to know about our product- the “1-Way Card”-a smart card that has a QR code which is like a unique identifier of the cardholder. These cards will have a single wallet, which would be recharged online and then it could be used across different modes of transport. Also, people like bus conductors, Railway TT can simply scan the barcode/QR code to issue e-tickets. A win-win situation for both.

The same storyboard can also be drawn from the perspective of a bus conductor or a train TTE.

2. Musafir App

Story of Raj and Ram who meet each other through the Musafir App

This story is about an app called “Musafir”( which means traveller) which is a platform where people looking for a lift and people who are willing to offer one can meet. There are millions of people in big cities like Mumbai who travel long distances every day for work. Many of them use cars or motorbikes. They spend a significant portion of their income on fuel costs. The journey which can often be as long as 4 hrs seems lonely and boring.

On the other hand, there are some people who find the cab prices unaffordable but at the same time avoid using public transport like subways and buses. Musafir is a platform that can help these two kinds of personalities meet each other. They can share stories, fuel costs and at the same time make new connections and friends. The app will verify the profiles of both sides and take steps to ensure safety and security. Drivers would have the option to choose their co-passengers based on each other’s interests, route and other preferences.

Why?

I think after reading all this, you already know the answer to the question- “Why do Storyboarding?”, but in case you haven't-

  1. It helps in getting a better understanding of your user.
  2. It helps immensely in setting goals for the team. It helps in bringing your designers, engineers, marketers, analysts, PMs etc on the same page.
  3. It avoids attachment to the first very idea that comes in your mind.
  4. Lastly, it is super fun, how often do you get to make a comic at your work?

So before you jump to conclusions or make any assumptions, live the story of your user.

About the Author

Anmol Agarwal is a senior undergrad at IIT(BHU) Varanasi. He writes what he observes. He loves to talk about user behaviours, actions and motivations and how can they be simplified. He loves to take ownership and responsibility of projects that he is a part of. Contact him anytime for a candid chat on product, technology, history and politics.

Email- anmol.agarwal.che16@iitbhu.ac.in

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