“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It's not about money. It's about the people you have, how you're led, and how much you get it.” - Steve Jobs

Telling compelling narratives to create great design

A theme is brewing in my life as a designer and a design educator. As many of you know I’m teaching mostly undergraduates how to become great interaction designers. My classes tend to have some amount of overlap and so themes sometimes come out that jump out at me that can’t be ignored any longer.

This month’s theme is “story telling” or “narrative”.

It came to a head tonight when I saw the announcement of a new product for storyboard, animatics and audio soundtracks.  The Product is called Story Planner (with a Pro edition). I haven’t used it yet, but just its existence is compelling enough for me.

Story Planner

Yes, there are other comic creation tools out there like Comic Life, but adding in the ability to animate aspects of the board and put in a sound track and now you have a tool that lowers the bar in the creation of really simple video narratives for communicating design directions and scenarios.

But what is the big deal about narratives anyway. They really have existed for quite a long time in design now, going way back. The very notion of using storyboards in a design setting is not that new at all. But what has been happening lately is an “upping” of the ante.

Character development through Goal-Directed Design personas and then GDD scenarios is a common UCD methodology. But expanding on those scenarios and converting them into stories, takes them out of the mere “practical” and into the realm of the creative, sparking a new level of connecting the designer to the user, and allowing the designer to use their less analytical skills towards expressing and synthesizing design goals and needs.

So while yes, there is nothing new under the sun, how we use it and fuse it can lead to new interesting things.

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  • http://www.apogeehk.com Daniel Szuc

    Hi Dave, independent of the tool e.g. PPT, Storyboard etc, one of the greatest gifts you can teach is “how to tell a story” and “talk to stuff” – you may want to hook up with the Drama Dept and see if you can get some people to teach improvisation and build confidence around story telling?

    Also being able to be human and real in presentations goes a long way.


  • http://www.apogeehk.com Daniel Szuc


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