What Do You Include In Your Storyboards?

Storyboards, and what it contained within them, can vary greatly from one project to another. 

There are a few items that are typically always included: the text content, place-holders for imagery or videos, navigation instructions. But what else do you include in your storyboard? Page numbers? Notes for the developer?

I'd love to get feedback from community members on what you typically include in your storyboards. Please leave a comment below and let me know what "sections" or information your storyboards usually include.

Thanks in advance to all!

17 Replies
Rachel Barnum

We include:

  • Slide number (more for identification purposes than what's actually on the screen)
  • Screen layout (if applicable, some courses have 20 screen layouts that are reused, etc.)
  • Slide Title
  • Learning Objective or Outline Section slide pertains to
  • Content (sometimes organized into interactions using tables or boxes)
  • Audio transcript
  • Graphic direction (link to shutterstock photo, example of interaction in use elsewhere and/or a wireframe)
  • Development instructions
Steve Flowers

It depends:) Who is the storyboard for? Is it for the developer or is it for the SME review? IMO, these require very different presentations of information.

Want to kill an SME's interest and get them to sign off under duress, only to come back later with changes? Have slides and slides of storyboards, each with 50 fields of information, 80% of which are irrelevant to the reviewer.

The elements below (similar to Ashley and Rachel's) are pretty universal for my boards, though the style will depend on the expectations of the client and the early conversations we have about the process. Simple usually = better. If I'm using another developer, I may need to expand on this with narrative and prototypes / examples. But I try to make it a point not to torture the stakeholder with technical details and excess bulk.

  • Normally in the footer - Course or Course & Module Identifier and Date / Version (most of the time just the date of last update)
  • Page Identifier (1-01, 1-02) This is super important as I use this for asset tagging (audio, page specific images)
  • Content / Interactions. Usually two columns with correlating rows that indicate how the narrative will sync with visuals and how interactions flow.
    • Visuals - Sketches, text description, and / or quick comps. I like to insert interactions into the flow of the content with [actions within brackets]. [@ chooses A.] Callout appears with label X.
    • Audio - [after @ chooses A.]

I like to include a map / chart of the overall flow. This usually color codes and labels pages by type. Color coding and labels for the types of interaction / presentation can provide a lot of insight. It really helps to provide a visual sense of balance and rhythm. The map also helps to orient the reviewer to the structure.

Bruce Graham

I only ever include a Storyboard for "linear" content, (such as inserted cartoons or animations). That contains the script (whether r not it is going to be used for a voiceover or not), what is happening on the screen in terms of characters and props, sound effects, transitions, and any special notes - such as words that need to be emphasized etc.

Everything else I do in Storyline directly, and we go through rapid prototype iterations, so it's not a Storyboard as such, although I do make some comments occasionally in the notes <like this>, which will be preceded with BG if they are notes for me, or XX if they are notes for the client, (their name of course does not need to be Xavier Xerxes - that's just there to show you that I use their initials...)

Steve Flowers

That's nice to hear L'Oreal:) I used to load up my storyboards with all kinds of stuff. Learned as I went that it wasn't the right dose.

I love Bruce's approach of guerilla design. I use that when I can but, alas, many clients need the paper for approvals. Whatever is most efficient is the way to go!

Cleon McClure

Hi Bruce,

Are you using SAM (Successive Approximation Model)?   What level of SME access is required to provide iterations?  I would grealy appreciate  your recommendations to secure management approval for this approach..  the ADDIE / Linear Storyboard is very limiting (creativity snifling for sure)!

 

Thanks in advance -- Cleon

Bruce Graham

@Cleon.

No idea what it's called! I guess it does fit into the SAM Model, (having just looked at Allen Studios for a brief overview...), but I do not use any specific or formally defined model. It's what I have developed over the years.

I just have business discussions with my clients, and tend to have one SME who acts as the conduit/front-person for all others at review time. If that happens to fall into a Model that someone (no doubt...) sells for a small fortune then so be it, but I just tend to call it "Here's what I think you want, and need, from our discussions - how close did I get to your vision? Let's go through it all again, keep the good stuff, delete the rubbish, and get it a bit better" (Patent Pending).

I believe that to be successful in this approach you have to be a little more of a "performer" than just an ID, as you need to be there, up at the front, with strong questioning techniques, a "no fear" approach to information gathering and probing, the ability to spot tensions and conceptual mismatches between people, and wrap the whole thing up in a "business" rather than "training" wrapper.

It's certainly (IMHO) not a technique for wallflowers - you are there, you build in front of people, you have to react, and have confidence to tell people when they are (possibly...) wrong - blending the ID world and business world then and there.

I also do it because it is fun, and even clients seem to enjoy the process.

Hope that helps.

Sachin Taank

Hi Heather,

We use MS Word with Tables as it just seems to work much better for us. I downloaded the template that the Articulate Storyline section of this site offered and then tailored it down to the needs of us. Its working well so far, and I also do tree diagrams so I know where the linkages are at the end once I have designed all of the slides.

Hope this helps.

Sachin

Maggie Cowan

We storyboard using PowerPoint's notes layout.  The slide is a representation of what the learners will see.  The notes include everything we need to make it work for the learner.  In general, we include:

  • Estimated time
  • Page # of #
    • This is only used if we need to story out every clickable item in an activity.  Typically, this only happens if there's a visual element that the SME needs to review (screenshot).
  • Audio Transcript
  • Developer Notes
    • The nitty gritty of how we want the slide/section to behave.

We have a storyboard template that Instructional Designers use.  It includes the introduction and conclusion sections, which every course has.  It also includes samples of text based slides, image layouts, graphics, and activities.  There are 4 different layouts for every 508 compliant activity.  These have the appropriate developer notes already so the ID doesn't have to write those every time.  Our Storyline template mirrors the storyboard template.

Anna Veach

I guess I'll toss my two cents in here since I was pondering this same question recently. I have created a storyboard using PPT and felt like I was doing the work before we did the work and that felt redundant (I passed the PPT along to the graphics team who put the course into eLearning format, but I planned out all the interactions and text).

Recently, we've implemented something called a Course Content Map which is a word docuemtn (with tables) which is intended to provide the SME with a high level view of the content for each section. While this works great for Instructor Led training (translates beautifully to our facilitator guide format) it doesn't work as well for eLearning.

I guess up until now, I've just created a very basic outline of Scenes and main topics I wanted covered in each and then "guerilla" developed them. When we sent it to the SME they always thought it looked great.

Now I'm being asked to make my eLearning fit into the course content map mold and it's not working very well.

I did come up with a format that looks similar to our course content map but every slide in the course is listed with the content or interaction description along with a section to note which slide it navigates to. It's not the smoothest looking document at the moment but it works for putting somehting that was developed "on the fly" into a document that shows the text or narration for review and approval.

This is helpful because now we're having to send the courses out for annual review to ensure that the content hasn't changed.

Anyone have any great ideas for how to track changes from year to year?

Mark Dawdy

Hello All,

Great discussion.  In my experience, what is usually called a storyboard is actually a script.  The script contains all of the technical details as has been mentioned in the first couple of comments (Rachel, Ashley, and Steve).

It will show the screens and what text, audio, visuals, and a description of what is happening in the interaction, if there is interaction.  As well as general course info.

A storyboard is more of a visual document, showing flow, what screens or interactions exist and where, etc.  At least as far as I have seen in most corporations and companies I have worked with.  Although it does vary widely across different companies.

I create storyboards in PPT mostly.  Why?  It's universal - almost everyone has it.  It's easy to use.  I can quickly sketch out what is happening, even showing action if needed.  For me, it is more of the 40,000 ft view, where the script is in the weeds at ground level.

Although  I must admit that the best storyboards I have tried to create with PPT have included as much detail as possible, like including a script box for the course info, slide number, etc.  the text is already on the screen.  There almost always needs to be the detail doc (script) built with it if you are working with a team and passing off the design to someone else.

In all of the storyboards I have used, there's never been a complaint or "Oh, we don't understand what's happening, can you explain it."  The visual representation captures it in such a simplistic way that I can show to someone not familiar with the course and they can "get it."

Think Disney's storyboards and that is what it is to me.

I agree with Bruce about the importance of prototyping and have convinced clients as well as designed and developed using it myself.  Modeled it after the SAM approach, but once again, I agree with Bruce, you are simply trying to help the client "see" where you are heading and so the exact procedures don't really matter.  It seems like we get caught up in the mechanics and formality too much.

Storyline is a perfect tool for prototyping.  At my last client, we used it to meet an aggressive deadline, with video interactions, branching, quizzing, etc.  The feedback from the end users was along the lines of "We wish all of the training was like this."

The learner was given the scenario set up first, shown the client's reaction on video, then have to make a choice where they are given the video outcome of their choice from the client's reaction again.

It was simple, yet powerful, giving them as close to the real-world circumstances as possible.

Thanks Again for everyone's contributions, I appreciate this discussion and find it is an ongoing thing in the world of a contractor.

My Two Cents 

Robert Leier

Bruce, I can really relate to your approach. I gather it is half systematic, and half trial and error. I don't care for being confined to a particular set of steps or doing things in a certain order over and over. When I first examined ADDIE many years ago, it gave me a lot of insight into what I should be looking for and the questions to ask. I therefore, see ADDIE as a guide to clue new people in, to how instructional design is carried out. And after awhile, it becomes part of a IS practitioner - how to plan, how to design, how to build, what to expect, what questions to ask and when. Unfortunately it seems like managers want everything to follow a process. I am forced to storyboard everything in Powerpoint so others can review it (everyone has PPT), and then import into Storyline for production and programming. And because of that, it feels like I always build the same content twice.

 

Anna Veach

An idea just occurred to me. Has anyone ever tried or considered doing a storyboard in PPT and then importing over to Storyline? The one time I created storyboard in PPT I felt like I was doing double work. Actually I sent the PPT off to "developers" who created the course in Captivate but by the time I finished with the storyboard I felt like I could have created the course in Storyline. Does that make sense? Of course, right now, I don't use PPT or Word to develop a real storyboard, in fact I'm getting ready to do this process for the first time in the 2 years I've worked in my job (and I've develope at least 10 eLearning courses since I started here, just never created a storyboard for them.)