7 Tips for Effective Storyboarding

Storyboarding is an essential process when developing eLearning with a production team. A storyboard should effectively communicate the intent, graphic layout, functionality, and content of the course to the production team so that they can produce the learning. When done well, the storyboarding process should result in minimal rework, reduced production time, increased customer satisfaction, and even award-winning results. Here are 7 tips that can enhance your storyboarding skills.

Use a Shared Slide Deck

Using a slide deck to create the storyboard is an efficient way of describing what will happen on each scene or page. In this way, the deck is easy to navigate and it is clear what elements belong on each page. In addition, if you author your storyboard using a collaborative online tool such as Google Docs or Office 360, you can collaborate in real time, post comments, and see the revision history – all without having to go through the hassle of emailing different versions of a document that is not shared online.

Begin with an Overview Page

On the first page of the storyboard, incorporate instructional design considerations for the project. These include the learning objectives, adult learning strategies employed, and course structure. By being transparent and articulating these considerations, everyone can refer to them when speaking with subject matter experts to explain why certain learning design decisions have been made.

Use a Coding System for Page Numbers

Each slide is numbered according to a coding system as opposed to straight sequential numbers. An example of a system that works well corresponds to an outline such as 1A1, 1A2, 1B, 2A1, 2A2. In this way, all stakeholders can easily and quickly identify what section of an outline a particular scene belongs to as well as how long that section is.

Identify the Learning Intent of Each Page

Pages in a storyboard have different intents such as building background, exploring the primary content, applying knowledge, assessments, etc. Being clear on the learning intent can support the development team to build it so it is aligned to your design.

Describe or Mock Up the Page Layout

Each page should have the corresponding text that will be included, but a well-designed page is more than just the text. For example, what are the other elements to be included such as photos, characters, interactive buttons, etc. and where are they placed? Quickly mocking up a page using shapes to describe where main elements are positioned can support the development team to realize your vision.

Articulate the User Experience

If there are any interactive activities on the page, clearly state what the user experience will be. This will help the development team configure the parameters of the activity to match what you envision. For example, rather than just stating that there is a drag-and-drop activity to complete, explicitly state what the learner will do and experience – in this case:

Learners drag one of the three items to the target area. If it is correct, it will stay. If incorrect, it will bounce back. Learners receive immediate feedback in a pop-up message related to their choice.

Developer Notes Section

In addition to sections for the text, page layout, and user experience, include in each page a Developer Notes section. This is a place to address any technical considerations that don’t fit in the preceding sections. For example, reference where specific image files can be located or how text entry field data is handled.

Using these conventions whenever developing storyboards are helpful to both clients and production teams. Time, energy, and money reworking the content based on miscommunication can be eliminated since all stakeholders have clarity on what is being developed. If you aren’t using these tips, we hope that you’ll try at least one of them to improve your practice.