Best practices for rapid development according to given storyboards

Hello Fellow Storyliners! I am someone who is taking my baby steps in Articulate Storyline2. I have some knowledge about the basic functionality of its elements and keyboard shortcuts. I can also make basic slides (please correct me if I am not using the technically correct term) on my own and implement storyboard content. However, I am quite slow at developing my slides even when I am provided with all resources. Right now, all I am supposed to do is: use my judgement to develop slides using given elements- so I am not exactly at a very creative level. I cannot say where exactly I am lagging behind, but I guess arranging and resizing elements is consuming an awful lot of my time.

I sincerely hope our Heroes can offer me some tips on increasing my development pace :).

7 Replies
Preston Ruddell


Hello Taaha and welcome!

I became an instructional designer in August.  While I had a background in education and development, E-learning development was completely new to me.  While I am certainly not an expert... I can confidently say that I'm much better now than I was in August.  Here are some of the things I've done that have helped:

I followed Tom's blog on rapid E-Learning:   This blog has a TON of resources, screen casts, how-to's, and general wisdom. 

I've taken a look at quite a few of the free Downloads:  One of the most helpful things I've done is to find a download that I really like and breakdown how it's done.  My recent E-learning Challenge submission was based on a download that I found a long time ago on this site. I was able to figure out how to break down the template to where I could re-create it.  In doing this, I start to build a "toolbox" of techniques that I can use on future projects if needed.  I'm currently working on a web page demo and that zoom trick is coming in very handy :)

I also keep track of the E-Learning Challenges.  You'll find a lot of neat stuff there.  Once again, it's very useful to me to try and reverse engineer an effect that someone else has done. 

I also lurk on the Storyline Discussion forum.  A lot of the times, the issues are over my head, but I've learned a lot just reading through issues that others have had.  There are a lot of people who are highly skilled that help out on this forum.  I've learned a lot reading their solutions to issues that have come up on this forum.

There are some wonderful E-books that you can read as well.

Honestly, just playing around on this site and seeing what all it has to offer is a fantastic start.  There are some brilliant people on here who have written some fantastic posts.  I'm constantly looking for new tricks and shortcuts on this site.

Hope this helps!

Walt Hamilton

A couple of thoughts:

A good product requires a great deal of attention to minute details. You not only can't rush perfection, slapdash design always looks like it was just thrown together.

That said, there aer some things you will learn that can speed things up. Most of them are personal to your own workflow, and practice will bring facility.

If you have repeating items on various slides, sometimes it helps to put them on Master Slides. Other times, you can just copy a slide and delete non-repeating elements.

For similar style, the format painter can be a big help. For arranging and resizing, I use the size and position dialogs a lot (right click an item and choose Size and Position). For arranging, the Arrange function will help with aligning things.

Christie Pollick

Hi, Taaha -- Welcome to the wonderful world of E-Learning Heroes!

In addition to the awesome advice and suggestions you have already received, I wanted to share the following links that you may find useful!

Getting Started with SL2

Beginner's Guide To E-Learning

What You Need to Know to Create Amazing E-Learning

The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

Go from Zero to E-Learning Hero with Our New E-Book for Beginners

Hope that helps, and you are always welcome to share your projects here by using the ADD ATTACHMENT button in the bottom left of the reply box. Or, you may certainly post over in our Building Better Courses forum for lots of design tips, tricks, and input from fellow community members! :)

James Snider

Does your organization have a style guide for eLearning? If so, many of your elements can be reused from lesson to lesson to increase consistency in the product. For instance, all screenshots must have a specific treatment added with specific colors, drop shadows, stroke, etc. So I created a custom style in Photoshop. I add the few pixels to the canvas and click one style button and it's done.

I also found templates incredibly helpful in chopping down development time. Create your slides that you'll use over and over and then save the file as a .storylinetemplate file instead of a .story file. Then it'll appear in your templates dropdown when you add new slides. It cuts out having to add in the same navigation or border images every time.

Also, if your lessons have some of the same slides in each lesson, or most of them, create a "shell" lesson. For instance, if all of your lessons have an intro page, a pre-test, a post-test, a glossary, etc., create a shell lesson with those elements already done as much as you can. For each new lesson, open your shell lesson, save it with a new name (of your lesson) and begin editing or removing unneeded slides.

These tricks have shaved a ton of time off of development of new lessons for me. I'm the developer and graphic designer (and writer for 2 years up until a month ago when I got a writer to help) for 8,000 users of a statewide application. I was creating a couple lessons a month and needed ways to shorted development time. These items really helped me. Help that helps.

Steven McAneney

Hi Taaha. Perhaps I misunderstood your question, but it sounds to me like you're looking for ways to simply come up with ideas for slides, not how to speed up the development once you've got the idea. Correct?

I had the same problem at the start. Just building slides on the fly and then looking at the finished product and thinking "That's really poor".

My simple solution, and it may not work for you, was to simply pick up pen and paper and scribble down an illustration of the slide. Nobody else has to see it so any format is OK. Number the order of the animations, draw arrows showing which side of the slide they come from, write notes describing colours and images. If it all gets too cluttered, continue the numbering in another frame, which will most likely become a layer in your slide. 

Once you have that slide done, make sure it flows well from the previous one, and into the next one. No point spending ages developing a slide only to have to destroy it later! I usually scribble down 3-5 slides at a time. 

NOW you can figure out how to make it work. If you will be using a new technique, play around with it in a blank presentation first until you know it works. 

Once you have a good grasp on yours and Storyline's capabilities, this process will become very quick. I know it sounds like you are rewriting the Storyboard, but Storyboards come in many shapes and forms, and it sounds like the one you are using tells you what to do, but not how to do it.  Which is probably normal...

Hope this helps.

Tony Fernandes

Steven, your advice about using the pen and paper before developing slides is really good and practical. Having said that, I must say that I'd like to master the basics first and when I am sure of my capabilities in Storyline, I can proceed to do wonders with my creativity.  Style follows substance :)