Using Storytelling for User Experience

It may seem like an odd idea, using storytelling for user experience, but you will be surprised when you realize that you’ve been doing this all along. You see, as a UX designer or tester, you have to create interfaces, aesthetics, flow, logical navigation, and procedural orders. All these elements allow a user to easily and naturally interact with your construct.

Programmers create the core functionality, but you create the intermediary, the communication layer between this functionality and the user. You must think of all possible instances of users attempting various actions in your design. You must get in their heads and work out how the design can best suit their needs – in any given situation. This is called having contingencies, and these are often referred to as “scenarios”.

When you work out these scenarios, you’re actually using storytelling for user experience. But, I’m not just here to make you aware that “surprise, you’re using storytelling,” I point this out for a reason. You can use this awareness to get more out of your scenarios, and therefore, get better user experience design. Your goal is to be one step ahead, not just responsive.

Let’s take a look at what makes a story. In a story, you have some basic elements, such as a central character, or protagonist. You have a scenario that leads the protagonist into a journey. You have obstacles, you have a goal and you have a resolution of a problem.

Think about how you can use these elements in your UX design. For instance, think of different scenarios can lead your user to the journey – in this case, different issues that may lead users to to need software or services to work in a specific way. 

Next, consider the obstacles of their quest; that being the tasks they must perform in order to accomplish their goals. Consider, as you are following the story, how users may feel and think at any given moment, and design your user experience in order to make this very easy and practical for them to do, at every point along the way.

You can get the most out of your user experience design by sharing ideas. Sit with your team, and imagine different stories, with developed characters and fleshed out worlds, and imagine their journey in interacting with your user experience. By thinking this through, and taking turns contributing to the story, you can all work out ways to make each obstacle work properly. In essence, you are working out UX design aspects that further help enrich the interaction between the user and the interface.

Using storytelling for user experience design, development and refinement is a creative way to create a great interface between user and program. When you realize you’re not actually adopting a new philosophy, but merely taking advantage of a concept you are familiar with, you will get a lot more out of UX.