Story Tool: It Begins

© studio C | storyboarding tool, idea slide 1

I recently attended World Usability Day hosted on Microsoft’s Redmond campus with a colleague of mine, A. Jellenek (ajellebean).  On our way home, stuck in the inevitable traffic headed South, we started talking about how fun it would be to create a storyboard tool.

It should be fun to use.  It should be easy – like, drag and drop easy.  It should be portable – usable on a mobile device as well as online or on a user’s desktop.  And, oh yeah, it should be fun to use.

The first sketch I threw together (above) shows a simple interface.  It features a ( + ) symbol that, when activated, adds another blank panel to the board.  Dialogue can be entered and associated with any added persona within the scene.  Notes may also be added to help set-up the scenario.

© studio C | storyboarding tool, idea slide 2

Within each panel, a user might want to add different people (personas).  High-level options would, of course, be gender, but it would be necessary to add a way to dictate the person’s facial expressions in order to convey their feelings about what’s happening in the scene.  Fun options would include clothes, hair styles, and anything else that makes the personas in the scene more tangible/relatable to an audience.

In addition, users may want to update, edit, or otherwise change the scene or backdrop in the panel.  Think of these backdrops as environments like the office, home, restaurants, or car.

Also, to make the tool a little more robust, it would be great to feature an “Add Accessory” tool – something I’ve been fond of calling the “Paper Hat” tool.  If the user is in need of a usability storyboard to show the use of a new phone, having the ability to drag and drop a graphic likeness of a phone into a scene is paramount.

© studio C | storyboarding tool, idea slide 3

Of course, when shared, the panel is greatly simplified.  It depicts the panel number, dialogue, personas, environment, and any notes the user has specified in edit mode.

There are many, many (many) iterations to go, testing, testing, and re-testing, but it’s fun to make a start.

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6 thoughts on “Story Tool: It Begins

  1. JB, thanks for the positive feedback! I’ve been having a lot of fun with the design idea. I would be interested in hearing what kinds of features you would find helpful!

  2. It would be great to be able to export these in a way that I could use them to illustrate context scenarios……. also, the ability to import Balsamiq style screen drawings for a little detail would be nice.

  3. Great! I’ve played a bit with Balsamiq. I will definitely play around with adding in that type of functionality. Sharing is paramount so there will be, I envision, many ways to create and then share. The focus will be on making it fun and easy. Thanks so much for your insights. I will have more to share in the weeks to come!

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