Storytelling – User Experience Edition

Mike Sofka
December 15, 2020

Storytelling has been around since the beginning of time. We see evidence of storytelling from the times of the cavemen and cavewomen drawing pictures on their cave walls to communicate. Hieroglyphics etched into the pyramids and temples of ancient Egypt depicting their long, rich history. To simply sitting around with friends, sharing experiences, entertaining, teaching, or passing on traditions. Storytelling is an integral part of the human fabric. Even when we fall asleep, our brain, through our dreams, continue to tell us stories.

User experience and storytelling have several things in common. When storytelling, oftentimes it’s personal, it’s captivating, you’re engaging your listeners with a relatable story that they’re able to connect with. Stories allow us to convey complex concepts in terms that a variety of people can associate with and understand. From the time we were little, we’ve been surrounded with stories; bedtime stories, tall-tales from a grandparent, or friends embellishing their experience camping in the woods…we all know ghosts aren’t real, Brian!

When dealing with user experience, being a good storyteller is a crucial part of the process. Whether you’re the designer, product manager, or developer, each contributor needs to be able to walk someone through the journey of the application or platform that’s being developed. We will expand on this in a moment.

Platforms and applications have “journeys,” you ask? Yes, they absolutely do. We call them “user journeys” in the biz. A user journey is an experience a person has as they interact with software. Take Amazon for instance; you go to Amazon, search for a product, add that product to your cart, then complete your transaction. Simple right? Did you have to think about what you needed to do to complete your purchase? No! That was a successful user journey. And in its simplest form, the way I just described going to Amazon and purchasing an item is “storytelling”.

Simple Amazon Story
Login → Search for product → Add to cart → Purchase

Back to our regularly scheduled programming…

When building software and features within the product the designer, product manager, or developer should at any time be able to tell the story of what the users experience and interaction should be. It is vital for this shared understanding to provide each member of the team to fully understand the story. At a basic level, everyone on the team is a storyteller. When the software is at the point where designers are designing, developers are developing and product managers are managing, everyone understands the user persona utilizing the software and what journey they need to take to achieve their goal.

Telling a meaningful, insightful story will always yield the best result. Storytelling as part of the user experience process is crucial to the success of your product. While this may seem daunting to some, you truly do not need the gift of gab to depict the story of a user persona in your software. It can be as simple as the Amazon example above. If storytelling isn’t part of your current product development process, you are highly encouraged to lead the charge and start telling the stories of your users within your product features. This is a method that is sure to quickly unify your team and create a shared understanding required for success.

Happy storytelling!

 

Mike Sofka is a Senior Product Designer at Ncontracts headquartered in Brentwood, TN. He has also worked as an illustrator and graphic designer for the Walt Disney Company, Crayola, the Los Angeles Kings, Veggietales, The Home Depot, and many other wonderful companies. If you are in need of a graphic designer or illustrator, he would love to speak with you!

To learn more about Ncontracts, please visit: product.ncontracts.com