You have all heard of storytelling, everyone in the design community and social media talks about it and you wonder – ‘What does it mean?’.
Honestly even I was in the same exact confusion in the beginning. I dived into the internet and went through articles and videos to understand what all these people were saying.
Let me break down what my understanding of storytelling is.
Did you experience that feeling you get when you go into a meeting all excited to present your designs with josh, and get nothing?
This usually happens when the people on the other side have not really understood your design. It’s because you spoke your language and not the language they are used to.
(Just imagine a developer coming up to you and talking in their programming slang. You’ll be clueless and confused. Things will fly off your head.)
We need to talk in a language that our audience will understand. Storytelling is nothing but the art of conveying your message in a way everyone can understand. It is something that is a part of our daily lives and culture.
We need to build an emotional connection with our designs/ideas so our audience will respond to it in a more positive manner. People connect with emotions and for that, we need to establish trust by talking in a way they can understand.
Just like the movies, your design should tell a good story. Before we start designing we need to set a plot for our designs, create characters and start making things relatable to the real world.
A design is easy to do but convincing people of an idea is tough (No offense). This is where storytelling comes into action. Most of us usually start designing without understanding the brand, the audience, or the idea. We are always running behind in making a good design rather than what will work for the product in the real world.
Most designers make the mistake of making the design perfect and supporting it with tons of research. But the truth is that people can’t connect with that type of design emotionally. (The key is to bring your design to life)
We need to put the idea out in the world. The idea is always more powerful and it gets a whole new dimension when you start sharing it. People will have more ideas to the original core idea and it will keep growing.
Let’s discuss this in an easier way. (By storytelling)
The first thing is to start by thinking about your idea as the main plot line. Everything will revolve around this now. Like in DDLJ – the plot was that Raj & Simran loved each other but her family had already accepted another proposal for her.
Next, you start by building your characters in the design. Define your main hero and the supporting roles. Basically, find your Raj and Simran within the design and highlight them.
Now like in every movie, we need a bad guy. Your problem statement can be the villain.
Like all good blockbuster movies, your story needs to have some masala and drama.
(Add some dramatic train scenes)
Then start thinking of all the content as the dialogues of the movie and the graphics (imagery and illustrations) as the songs of the movie. We need to create a good balance between the songs and the dialogues.
Your subheadings and body text can be the supporting roles that make the hero stand out.
Also like all the action scenes of the movie, the CTA’s need to be there in the right place at the right time. Our users glance over the screens and in a very small time, we need to highlight our action items.
(Timing is everything)
First you yourself need to understand the story plot and characters in depth, then you can connect your audience easily to it. Audiences can forget the hero’s name but the story is what they will remember and talk about.
I have broken down the hero section of a popular insurance website into simple elements of a story. We can use this same process to talk about the entire website and further the complete concept. We need to break down the bigger element into smaller elements that should convey the same idea.
Your story needs to be rooted, it needs a strong base. You’re selling your story, and your idea to everyone and not just a website, or an app.
So there are 2 ways to do this – like an art form or with some masala.
The first one you should take on when you have an experimental design, for example when you reimagine any traditional approach. (Also when you have a lot of time and budget).
The other way to go about it is with some masala and creating a dramatic pitch. Try to build a story that places your product/idea in a real-life setting.
Next thing is to always practice with an audience before you go in for the final pitch. Practice your story a couple of times with your friends, family, and professional peers, and keep iterating the story by seeing their expressions, moods, and responses. Always practice with a small group. (Practice makes a man perfect😊)
You need to really understand your audience and connect with their emotions. On the first attempt you might fail but keep practicing and each time you’ll add things or remove something and you’ll get better at storytelling.
(Also you aren’t chocolate, you can’t make everyone happy…Just Accept That!)
Just always remember your idea is the most important aspect of your story. Pick what you need to be the hero of the design, make things easily relatable and that will help your design to be memorable.
….. And then the final pitch might just be a BLOCKBUSTER!!
About the Author:
Diya is an architect turned UI/UX Designer, currently working at Mantra Labs. She values designing experiences for both physical and digital spaces.
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