SXSWi Panel: Conserve Code with Storyboarding

It’s been a week since South By Southwest Interactive ended, and now that I’m finally back into a routine, I wanted to share some of the amazing stuff I learned through the conference.  I’ll be posting a new one each day this week.


Today’s topic: Conserve Code: Storyboard experiences with Customers First, presented by Joseph O’ Sullivan and Rachel Evans from Intuit.  Once again, audio is posted at the above link, but here are my notes.

I gleaned a lot from this presentation thanks to the skill of the speakers (not boring) and practice (we all got some paper and there was time built in to put some of what they were saying to use).

So what is a storyboard?  It’s a quick illustration to understand the context of use of a product.

Intuit apparently uses it for just about everything — from web and mobile applications to internal human resources.  O’ Sullivan and Evans say storyboards:

  • Can identify the real need before a lot of time is spent building a product
  • Can encourage more honest feedback because the designs are crude. (Customers don’t think they’re hurting your feelings)
  • Let you do more experimentation and drafts because they can be thrown away.

There are three parts to a storyboard

  • Problem — What can you learn?  Do you understand the problem?  Is it important?
  • Solution — Does it solve the problem completely?
  • Benefit — What is good about the solution for the customer?  Will it delight them?

First you make out a script based on that structure. Then you draw up the visuals — the cruder the better! After that, you have to learn from your storyboard, so you show it to people and ask for feedback.  The goal is to gather as much feedback as possible.  Who knows?  You may not have discovered the right benefit.  You may even have misidentified the problem!

I walked away really inspired to use storyboards from now on.  I have a bunch of ideas buzzing around my head for different applications.  Time to test them out!

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