Recently, I came across an article about ways to create a storyboard, The Art of Storyboard. The author emphasized the usefulness of the storyboard for e-Learning project development. He used three analogies for viewing the storyboard as a tool, an art, and a project. It is refreshing to view the storyboard in different perspectives. To me, the step of storyboard development is a very important step when working on any projects, such as websites, computer-based programs, and multimedia presentations. I created storyboards for almost everything.
A storyboard helps me organize ideas in my head, create a visual prototype, plan an interface design, and convey my thoughts and ideas to other team members and clients. Also, a storyboard can be viewed as a business plan, except it is in an informal visual. Without a plan any project can easily become unorganized and lead to chaos. Based on my experience as an instructional designer and training platform developer, when designing an e-learning project, I used storyboards to plan and design the program structure, navigation, interactivity, multimedia placement, and create scripts. It is necessary to plan them all out beforehand. The storyboard needs to include enough details in order to allow other team members to see a big picture, visualize the design details, and keep everyone on the same page.
A storyboard can be created quickly and easily using common software applications, such as MS Word, PowerPoint and Adobe Photoshop. I often used Photoshop to design a mock-up program interface. Photoshop allowed me to select a color scheme very quickly. I also designed a program background and navigation buttons in Photoshop. Then, I brought all the design elements into MS PowerPoint to lay out the placements of buttons, texts, video clips, and graphics. It is easier to go through each slide in PowerPoint when you are dealing with multiple pages or screens than create different screens in Photoshop. If you have a narration script to go with each screen, you can put the text under the Note section for each slide. Also, you can create internal links to jump among slides, so you can plan out the program navigation and interactivity. If you have any media that is going to be used in the program, you can import it into the PowerPoint too.
A storyboard is just a prototype or mockup version of your project. You should not spend too much time making everything look perfect, but you rather include all essential design elements. Storyboards, thus, allow you and your team members to visualize what the final project is going to look like. Some people even create a storyboard by sketching everything on a piece of paper. I think that is acceptable, but it might not be effective when you have several people working in the team and trying to figure out what you wrote or drew. In addition, it’s a lot easier to archive or use the storyboard as a design document when everything is in digital format (e.g., Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Photoshop file formats).