What information do you include in your storyboards?

In a recent Building Better Courses discussion, Nicole Legault posed a question to the community: What Do You Include in Your Storyboards? As usual, this led to a lively conversation with our awesome E-Learning Heroes community. And while there were some mixed perspectives about the exact role of storyboarding in the e-learning design process and what tools work best for storyboarding, the discussion unearthed some great best practices for storyboarding and prototyping that might give you some food for thought.

Essential Information

Everyone agreed that when you’re using a storyboard, you should always include this information:

  • The Course Name or Course and Module Identifier
  • The Date and/or Version Number
  • Slide/Page Identifier
  • Content and Interactions
  • Media or Visual treatments
  • Developer Notes

For a run-down on how to capture the essential details, check out this helpful article from Nicole Legault.

Storyboarding Best Practices

The type and level of detail you present in a storyboard can vary widely, depending on the needs of your project and your organization. Here are a few practical considerations for your next project:

Steve Flowers: “Who is the storyboard for? Is it for the developer or is it for the SME review? In my opinion, these require very different presentations of information.

Want to kill a 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.

Simple usually equals better. If I'm using another developer, I may need to expand on [the basics] with narrative and prototypes or examples. But I try to make it a point not to torture the stakeholder with technical details and excess bulk.”

Bruce Graham: “I only ever include a Storyboard for "linear" content, (such as inserted cartoons or animations). That contains the script (whether it’s 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 the client’s initials if they’re notes for the client.”

Maggie Cowan: “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.”

Mark Dawdy: “I agree with Bruce about the importance of prototyping and have convinced clients as well as designed and developed using it myself... 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.’”


Looking for more practical tips and ideas? Check out the following links to some great related articles and discussions from the E-Learning Heroes Community:

What information do you include in your storyboards? Tell us about how you work and leave a comment below.

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