Does storyboarding save or add time to the process?

May 21, 2015

I recently posted an article about E-Learning Storyboards vs. Prototypes and I got asked this great question from community member Alyssa Gomez who asked:

"I work on an instructional design team that does not use storyboarding or prototyping because the nature of our company requires us to produce courses at a fairly fast rate. Most of my teammates feel that storyboarding or prototyping will take up too much time, so instead they jump directly into course-building. I have recently learned about the process of storyboarding, and I would like to know your thoughts: do you think storyboarding adds time to the process or saves time overall? I would love to share your thoughts with my team. Thank you!"

So I'd like to hear from the community...

Do you feel that storyboarding adds time, or saves time, overall? 

35 Replies
Andy Whitman

Old post - but good discussion. I see one of the major differences between those for and against storyboard is the actual instructional design element of the content. Most folks not storyboarding are talking about apply the content to the course design which is ok for an elearning developer or something like that.

But for an Instructional Designer, you need to script the content so you can apply instructional design and adult learning stuff. I suppose one of the main factors is, are you providing real instructional design in addition to course development or primarily focusing on course development.

Joseph Benton

I am not a fan of having to do storyboards since I am doing both the script and the e-learning production. However, it is often what a customer expects and it helps them to "see" what they are getting. It takes a very sharp mind to look at a script and believe that the end product will look right OR it simply takes a great deal of trust. Either way, it's likely that storyboards will be required in most cases unless you can get away without doing it because they can see what you are doing or they trust what you are doing.

Martina Osmak

Hi everyone, great discussion going on here! I don't want to spam this discussion because the subject is just similar, not the same. But, since it really is close enough, I'd like to draw your attention to this thread - . Maybe you have some ideas what features should be developed - which would help storyboarding to be effective, fast and easier.



Brian Cook

I'd like to weigh in on this, 3 years after the original post. Now that Articulate has developed "Rise", I would be curious to get input on what the function of the storyboard serves in a rapid development environment.

Even go one level further. WHY do you storyboard? Is it for you as a designer? Is it for someone else?

John Nixdorf

Since my subject matter experts typically don't know what they want until they actually see something my "storyboard" is actually just banging something together in Storyline, generating a WORD doc, and prototype, and sending it to them to review and critique. What I call working "alla prima."

This would be a little risky if there is a lot of branching, you're doing some kind of complex "gamification," or you have to control a project with more than one developer.

Calvin Lo

Our guideline is, read the script and if you feel that you can design the course without the assistance of an SME, you can skip storyboarding. Or if the course is pretty straightforward, no complex branching or interaction (which you can probably envision as you're reading the script), go straight to design because that will save you a lot of time. Otherwise, storyboard.


It's interesting to learn about all the different opinions and practices in this thread!

At our company, we create a content outline first, have the SME review it, then use the approved outline as a basis to start building the course in Storyline. The next step, the storyboard we give the client to review, is just the first iteration of the final course without interactions or audio - it shows the client the proposed course design with the accompanying voiceover script. The client can see the vision of the final product and can make any needed course corrections to the content and design before we invest too time in the more complex aspects of the build. Using one of initial drafts of the course, instead of creating a separate storyboard product, helps us save time and avoid distraction.  

Andy Whitman

Based on the other recent posts, it's clear that the focus is more on development - which people often refer to as design although they are very different. With that in mind, there is very little reason for a storyboard. You can develop any number of cool-looking things & put the content in.

However, if your goal is to instructionally design a well-made learning tool, then the storyboard is your blueprint. A builder could probably throw together a nice house without one but were there enough beds/baths/etc.? A furnace? How were those decisions made? The best architects plan & design the blueprint in minute & skilled detail, then move onto developing it. Either way, your end product will be shiny, but the one with the storyboard will be a lot more effective.

Prototypes are fun examples people use as a way to avoid storyboards. I usually find that these courses do not offer an advanced level of development, which necessitates a lot more time & effort. Therefore not only do they not have a well-designed course, but they also have a relatively limited course visually and what have you.

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