Storytelling is one of the less obvious tools in your toolkit as you think about design. It’s very much something that people around you will wrongly identify as a factor to consider further down the road of the design process. In fact, storytelling ought to be a consideration from the very first moment you begin to consider a project. And, furthermore, it’s something which you inherently handle as a designer without even realizing what you are doing. Stories are a part of human nature and have dominated the sociological landscape for millennia. This doesn’t just mean things like Homer’s Odyssey and Dickens’ David Copperfield. It includes minute stories, associations even that users who experience your design will make that make them feel anything of a range of emotions. So with this all said, let’s take a look at how you can get to use storytelling in your design.
Understanding Your Audience
Just how William Shakespeare knew the exact sorts of people who would be standing in The Globe Theatre all those centuries ago, you need to understand the users experiencing your design as one of the very first steps you’ll take. “Discovering your user base is a step in the process that can be a simple or as complex as you’d like, from asking a friend to check out some work you’ve done to running a fully-fledged statistical market research campaign”, explains Mark Cristea, design blogger at UK Top Writers and Best Australian Writers. “The important thing is that it gets done in some form”. Once you know who these people are it’s your job to process your own design from their perspective, and to see whether the story that you have embedded in your work creates a connection between the design and its target audience. That’s where the power of story can be introduced, to create that connection from a design experience to a user. And to tailor that experience you need to know the user.
Create The Story Together
Design, as opposed to traditional storytelling, shouldn’t simply be delivered to the user, like a poet reading to an audience. Design allows the user to become a part of the story, to feel as if their utilization of the product or website is somehow making some sort of difference. To do this you can put a big focus on relatability and to ease of access. No-one will feel like you are carrying them along with a story if there are technical issues along the way. You want the usability factor to feature strongly. Relatability means you want your design to be able to connect with the audience with an effortless, organic sense of personalization. Bring them into the story of your product by delivering design which appears to be custom built for them.
Create A Journey
Many of the greatest stories of all time, The Odyssey, Gulliver’s Travels, The Hobbit, feature journeys, quests, a voyage to foreign fields. In truth though, if you look at all stories, there will always be a sense of journey, even if all the action happens inside of a single room. “Creating a strong sense of journey, that the user, through your design, is traveling from one place to another, literally, metaphorically, psychologically whatever it is, is one of the smartest ways to use the essence of storytelling to elevate your design”, says Tola Hulai, writer at Revieweal and UK Writings. Whatever it is you are designing, build in a journey, let the things that were true about your user or viewer change, even just a tiny bit, over the course of experiencing your design. This is the power of storytelling for your design, a way for you to alter the lives or perspectives of the users in such a way that they never forget their experience of the product or program.
Design is tricky a lot of the time because, whilst the basics are often regimented, the true masters of design aren’t working in a way that is copiable. You have to think for yourself the majority of the time. One thing you can be sure of though, is that at some level, explicitly or very subtly, all good designers are using storytelling in their work.
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