What is storytelling in UX design?

Stories are used to reinforce someone’s emotions, like imagination, happiness, creativity, insight. They can help narrate, teach and inspire and by using these techniques we can evoke emotions in our users that allow them to engage and think with our designs. UX design storytelling is a UX designers’ way of communicating, to influence their user’s behavior and capture their attention. There are many ways we already do this; such as with tweets, pop-ups, push notifications, images, call-to-actions, which are all effective ways we can tell a story.

You may already be integrating storytelling in your designs; pop ups, tweets & push notifications are all storytelling techniques, did you know that? @WeAreBrintia

However, there’s a small difference. UX storytelling is always specific; from the main character, to the plot, the user’s goals and emotions to be taken from the story are always clear. Be specific and your audience will remember you, which is why buying personas are always more important than abstruse market segmentation.

How can we put it in practice?                                                                      

Have you ever watched a successful Ted Talk? The speaker doesn’t stand on stage listing facts and figures for a whole hour, instead they create a narrative, a storyline to transport the listeners into their world. The idea is not to bombard your customer with facts, but to provide a meaningful experience. Applying storytelling techniques are vital if you want to provide an effective user experience, but where do we begin?

  1. The “how, why and what” to your story. Let’s start with the basics; look at the higher purpose of what you are aiming to do, what does your company and brand stand for? What is your product or service for and how could it help your potential clients? What problem is it solving in their life and what kind of value is it adding? Good user experience doesn’t have to get more complicated than this.
  2. Create your main character. Every story needs one, but the question is; who is it? Forget your brand, company or product, and look to your users for inspiration. They are the hero to the story and you are merely the sidekick to help them achieve their goal.
  3. What’s the conflict? Every good service or product starts with aiming to solve a user’s problem and UX design isn’t any different. Start your story getting to know your users and understanding their needs, wants and pain points.
  4. Emotional branding. This consumer-centric technique creates intense and heart-felt relationships between your brand and users and is driven by stories. Focus on delivering feelings when a client interacts with your product and create a long-lasting emotional driven perception of the brand in their mind.
  5. What is the spectacle? The spectacle refers to the visual contribution to the story, which usually refers to images or videos. This makes the story more attractive and interesting and what’s going to stick on the consumers mind.
  6. Be bold. How will your design speak to users. What fits them better; informal or formal? Lots of text or straight to the point? Understand who your consumers are. If you want to do something different, be confident in it and go with the flow. Unconventional? Edgy? Revolutionary? Be your own brand, but do it with pride.
  7. Context is key. Where has your user come from? Where are they going in the user journey? Give them confidence in their next steps and help them understand where to go and what best suits them. And most importantly, let them know they’re in the right place.

What are the benefits of UX storytelling for your business?

  • Deliver a more engaging and captivating experience and retain user’s attention and ensure they are always center of the story.
  • Create a more memorable user interaction with your brand.
  • Simplify complex ideas into a more attractive design.
  • Stories facilitate comprehension and memory retention which allows you to be unique and stand out from your competition with a strong narrative.
  • Want to discuss more controversial topics? Storytelling allows you to do so in less direct ways.

Remember…

Storytelling can evoke our deepest emotions and create a narrative that captivates our users. Here’s an example; let’s say we’re on a webpage buying something and there’s a problem. We’ve just put in our card details and the page isn’t working. It’s those seconds of panic that feel like minutes, where we feel anxious and scared about our private details. Even a small, friendly pop-up just to tell us everything will be fine help us remain calm and collected and can often be the make or break of a user’s relationship with a brand.

Want to learn more about UX/UI design, check out our other blog posts here.