4 min read

The Importance of Storytelling in UX

By integrating stories into their designs, designers can get insight into their users, build empathy and connect with users emotionally. This is why storytelling has become an essential component in UX design. Designers can create personas that represent their target users and use conflict as a storytelling tool in user experience design to understand their user journeys and problems. 

Historically storytelling has always been used to captivate audiences, In fact our brains are hardwired for stories. Stories throughout history have always been a very specific communication tool. They allow us to retain large amounts of information and also experience something without it happening to us. From campfires to stone tools, evidence of stories being used to exchange information with another is present throughout history.

Now that we’ve understood a little bit about what stories are, let us look at how storytelling works in design. 

We’ve established that good stories captivate audiences. In UX design, storytelling is used throughout the process, even if you don’t realise it. Storytelling helps in ensuring that all your work is focused on the users needs and the value that you want to give them. Once you complete design research, the insights that you collect tell the story of who your users are, what they need and how you can use your product to give that to them. By telling these insights as a story you make it easier for everyone involved in the project to empathise with the users and ensure that their work matches the story. When the product is complete, marketing becomes easier because you know exactly what story to tell to show that your product provides the users with some value. 

How can designers use storytelling UX design?

Storytelling is extremely essential in the process of UX design because it helps steer the designing process and keep it user centric. Here’s how designers can use storytelling in the design process.

1. Define your target users with personas

Users target

By creating personas of your users, you can envision their experiences much better and gain empathic insights. While personas are based on user research, but storytelling user experience design brings them to life.

2. Create a plot with conflict

Let your users become the heroes of your story. Envision how they would be able to overcome specific problems using your design. Craft out a well thought out mapped-out journey or storyboard with each persona’s aim clearly defined.

3. Let your design play a supporting role

Think of how your design can improve your user’s or personas life. Try and understand how it can make their lives easier.

4. Work within your setting

In your story where will your users be using your design? When will they be using it? This is important to build empathy with the user. Will they be using it at home or during their commute? Knowing these things will help in understanding what kind of design you need to create. For example if they are primarily using it during their commute, the design needs to be minimal and as simple as possible. 

Why is storytelling essential in UI/UX design?

It leads to higher engagement and better retention

We’ve established that stories are captivating. They capture the attention of users and keep them engaged till the end of your website or app. Engaging in UX storytelling while using literary devices like metaphors and analogies creates memorable UX that is not only easier to understand but also to remember.

When you present ideas or design in a story format, whether that’s an article, website or product, each device acts as a reference point for the future that facilitates remembrance.

It breaks down complex ideas and makes them easier to comprehend

Think about it, isn’t it easier to remember the entire plot of Harry Potter rather than the theories in your Maths textbook? This is because presenting information in a narrative gives it flow. It makes an idea easier to present because you can break it down into separate parts.

A story’s structure can act as a guide to manoeuvre your users through a journey. The beginning of the story sets the scene, introduces the characters and conflict to capture everyone’s attention; the middle get into the details, builds intrigue and moves the plot along; the end cohesively ties everything together. This structure works because it encompasses the five main elements of a story that work together to keep it running smoothly so that users can follow the action in a logical and cohesive way: 

  • The theme is the central idea
  • The setting is the situation around story
  • The characters are key players in the story (in our case, the characters are your users)
  • The conflict is the struggle that the characters have to overcome
  • The plot includes the events surrounding the conflict that lead to a resolution

Creates positive brand experiences and smoothens the customer journey

Good stories will help your users form positive experiences with your brand and leave them wanting more. It will shape their perception about your brand and leave them more likely to recommend you to others.

Conclusion

The impact of your UX design is likely to be much bigger if you incorporate storytelling into your design. It will help your users remember and grasp your design much better and also help them understand complicated ideas. When done right, storytelling creates positive brand experiences for the user making it more like that they will convert and become returning customers.

Published by Anjini Khanna

UX Designer

Anjini Khanna UX Designer