A storyboard is a frame-by-frame illustration of the user journey. It can be sketched, created out of photo montages or even videos.
The storyboard is used to explain the user journey to the product team and stakeholders. Rather than trying to describe the pain points and what users are thinking as they use the product, the storyboard illustrates it.
This makes it a compelling tool for empathizing and understanding your users.
Storyboards were introduced to the public by Walt Disney, who used them to show the story of his animated movies before actually going to all the effort to make them.
Storyboarding was handy for Walt and are handy for product teams because it allows us to see, discuss, think about and iterate on the user experience in a more intimate way. When we can “see” the action — even if just in a few characters sketched like cartoons — it helps us understand and empathize with the users.
Airbnb famously used storyboards to describe the experience a Host and a Guest each have during the process of renting and staying in an Airbnb. What they realized was that there were critical moments of pain that their product teams were not aware of. These insights came from thinking about–and drawing–the user journey in a storyboard.
Don’t let the Snow White storyboards intimidate you. You do not have to be an animator or illustrator to use this technique to communicate with your team. All you need is the ability to draw a bunch of boxes, and stick figures inside those boxes.
Think in terms of key frames–you’re not trying to hand draw an animated movie here!
Use your journey map to guide you. What are the main steps or actions your users take as they use your product? Draw those.
Do try to include emotions in your drawings. How do your users feel at each step? Draw those on your user’s faces.
Be complete. If stopping to sample cookies in the grocery store was a significant insight that you included on the journey map, then include that on your storyboard.
Here’s a handy template for you to use: