A Storytelling Framework for user experience design Stories are at the heart of every important artifact across time no matter which tools are used to tell it. Great stories share a fundamental structure - here's my simple step by step framework on how to use storytelling in user experience design.

“Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.”Robert McKee

A UX DesignStorytelling Framework

Have you ever heard someone tell you about the funny thing that happened when they grabbed their coffee this morning and you found yourself feeling like you saw a movie about it? On the flip side, we've all been there when a story is told, boring step by boring step.

Boring step by boring step is the way I feel like many people approach product design - with a "I've just got to get you through this" mentality. While many fall into that flat page mentality, great products introduce you into a fantastic world to explore, just like a great filmmaker. This storytelling framework is a place to begin as you build, infused from my experience at the Studios, from some of the best storytellers and product people I know,1 to tug, connect and make your product sing to the user. Think about your user as the hero and these simple steps will help guide you on their journey through your product.

1 - Character

Who is the User? - The user is your hero! The user has at least six things they need to fix. Decide what they are and write them down. Often these six things include messages you need to tell them for them to be successful in utilizing your app or experience. How can you lead them on a journey to help them find the answers?

2 - Inciting Incident

Jolt your hero user out of his everyday routine. For example, when Luke Skywalker accidentally sees part of Leia’s message meant for Obi-wan Kenobi, it sends him on a quest for answers. This might be part of your onboarding or first experience. What will jolt your user out of his everyday routine?

3 - The Shift

When you meet someone, know a bit about them, there is often a shift that takes place - a connection. If we are in direct conversation with someone we will connect directly with a person's background, their goals or their expertise. In a film, this often happens at the end of the first act, when characters connect and move forward to achieve their goals.

Technology can offer intimacy in that regard. What information do you know about the user, what she needs and the obstacles she faces? Use every bit of information you know about them to help them with their endeavors. Use simple awareness capabilties or more advanced computational intelligence to help your user. Where should she go from here to achieve her goal?

4 - Point of Commitment

For many users of an app, this might be clicking the buy button. How have you made sure that your user knows that the story will end well? How have you made them anticipate and get excited about what could happen next?

5 - Climax

This could be where your character learns something and has an a-ha moment. This could be the awesomeness of having to use your product. Measure and analyze this where you can - this should fix the six things that need to be fixed for your user.

6 - Denouement (pronounced day-new-mont)

Many people think that this is the end of the story, but translated, denouement means “untying the knot” - Users have bought your product. Now it's your responsibility to untie the experience for them, making it easy to use, connecting them to others - happily ever after - so much so that they will even tell their friends. From support to email newsletters and twitter correspondence, this is all the denouement.