Jente DorssemontDesign

What is a storyboard?

A storyboard is a way to visually represent your idea. As the name suggests, with this tool you tell the story of how the user interacts with your product or service. In the design process, a storyboard falls under the phase of prototyping or the concrete realization of your idea. You can use a storyboard for several purposes:

  • To test if the user understands your idea and goal you want to achieve. After you as a designer have created the storyboard you can involve a user. Here you ask if they can tell you what they see in the storyboard and if the steps are clear.
  • Another option is to find out for yourself if all the steps in the service or product are logical. By thinking about the story in detail, you may come across points that are still unclear.
  • To present your idea or concept to third parties. A storyboard can help to get people who are unfamiliar with your idea into your story. You can use the storyboard as a guide during a pitch or presentation.

Depending on your expertise, the goal you have in mind and the time you have available, a storyboard can take different forms:

Digitally drawn or digital with photos. The digital format already requires some knowledge of drawing programs or Photoshop so is more likely to be aimed at designers with some experience.
A storyboard can also be made in 2D by making drawings or cutting out figures and pasting them on a sheet of paper.
3D format is also possible by cutting out figures and pasting them on cardboard. Here you have the added advantage that you can make the figures move throughout the scenario.

What needs to be done prior to creating a storyboard?

A storyboard is used by designers when they already have an idea for a product or service. An extensive design process has therefore preceded it: from discovering what the user's needs are, generating ideas to selecting one concept. It is almost impossible to build a storyboard from scratch because you need to have a clear view of the functionalities of your service or product and which interactions they enable.

Getting Started

With the following step-by-step plan and a few handy tips and tricks, we'd like to get you started experimenting with the possibilities of a storyboard. You can find everything you need to develop your paper storyboard in the list of materials.

Tip: there are several websites that offer free vector graphics that you can use: freepik en Freevector.

List of materials

  • Scissors
  • Blank paper
  • Post-its
  • Markers in different colors
  • (Printed) Pictures/icons of people, attributes, means of transportation, buildings....
  • Glue  
  • Tape  
  • Cardboard 

People involved

  • You can create a storyboard alone or with several people. An extra person to spar with is recommended but not always necessary.
  • In the phase after creating the storyboard it is recommended to involve a user. With this person you can test and make adjustments to the story.
  • Furthermore, you can also involve other actors: the Design Team, customers, etc.

Time span

Allow about ± 1 hour to create a storyboard. Depending on how detailed you want to go this time span will vary.

Step by step plan

  1. To get started, it is important to select 1 specific moment of interaction between the user and the product or service. Think about a moment during this interaction where you still see uncertainties or have questions.
    For example: The delivery after ordering a product online.

  2. Within the moment you selected, now think about 5 actions that belong to this specific moment. Write out these step by step on post-its.
    For example: The user goes online to order the product. The order is placed and the person is waiting for delivery. The user gets updates on the status of the delivery. The day of delivery has arrived and the supplier arrives at the user's home.

  3. Define which actors and stakeholders are involved. Your user should definitely be present in the story.
    For example: The user, the help chat on the website, the supplier....

  4. Define which touchpoints, means of transportation.... are involved. For example: computer, payment app, bike for delivery, doorbell....

  5. Choose what format you will use to elaborate your storyboard: digital or paper? 2D or 3D? Drawing or cutting and pasting?

  6. For each step you've written out, now bring the actors and touchpoints together in your storyboard.
    For example: So if you are working on paper you are now going to cut out the figures, means of transport etc., paste them on cardboard and put them in the right place in your scenario.

  7. Experiment and try out different shapes and setups until you feel your scenario is on point. Add details like arrows, key words, etc. to make it even clearer.

  8. Invite a user and ask this person to explain what they see on the storyboard without further background information. Ask this person to explain the different steps. Document what the user says by making a recording, taking pictures, or keeping notes.

  9. Based on the information obtained from the test, you can adjust your concept.

  10. If you want to use the storyboard for a pitch or presentation, you might rework the first version to a final version with extra attention to neatness and professionalism.


Is it difficult to immediately visualize your story? Write out the steps briefly to get a sense of it. No printer nearby? Go look in magazines or newspapers to get figures, environmental elements... To go a step further, you can also switch to Lego. Not much time? A storyboard does not have to be a work of art, it is especially important that you can present your idea in a visual way in order to involve others. Use written keywords if you can't immediately find the right visual representation.

So, with these tips and tricks you are now ready to visualize your story yourself!

Curious how you got to this point in the design process? Are your fingers tingling to get started but you need some extra help?
Give us a call!