Storyboarding is a useful tool for the software design process

Though storyboarding adds an additional step to the software design process, it is invaluable to the client and the engineer when used in software development because it offers transparency and clarity to the client while streamlining the process for the developers and engineers.

05/24/2016


While storyboarding has long been considered a tool employed by those in the film and entertainment industry, its use in the software design process is becoming more expected and appreciated by both the developer and the client.

Though storyboarding adds an additional step to the software design process, it is invaluable to the client and the engineer when used in software development. This process avoids confusion and miscommunication when a team is working on a set of complex ideas. It affords the ability to easily present a cohesive plan to the client. Storyboarding also offers transparency and clarity to the client, while streamlining the process for the developers and engineers.

Focus on innovation

Figure 1: Interactive storyboard sample. Courtesy: David Tesche, Maverick TechnologiesDuring the specification phase of development, screens that the software will display are drawn, either on paper, or using specialized software, to illustrate significant elements of the user experience. This illustration assists in converting analytic data into the actual human experience. The client is able to offer feedback and suggest changes to improve the final result. This collaborative process helps the client feel connected to the product and promotes innovation.

Focus on savings

Storyboards can be configured to run with accurate navigation and user interaction. This provides a visual representation of the software as well as a process flow with the feel of a completed solution. Altering the storyboard is less time-consuming than making changes to an implemented piece of software representing a significant time and cost savings. The engineers then modify the storyboard and create a custom end product meeting the client's specific needs.

Focus on real-world use

While a verbal description of a screen or product is useful, there is room for misinterpretation. Sample images provided by a storyboard allow little room for misunderstanding and help the user understand exactly how the software will be employed in real-world circumstances. Figure 1 above shows how the end user will interact with the software on the screen and what that screen will look like.

Example of user interactive storyboarding. Courtesy: David Tesche, Maverick Technologies

Basic sketches of a storyboard on paper can be helpful, but there are a variety of more advanced and efficient tools available to software engineers. These programs feature an intuitive interface that allows the designer to create images and link them into a practical and attractive presentation. Many of these programs allow presentations to be saved online. Simply send a link to the file, with viewing and editing permissions, and every team member will be up to date with the most recent changes.

Example of illustrative line storyboarding. Courtesy: David Tesche, Maverick Technologies

Storyboarding is a crucial part of the software design process that allows designers, in collaboration with their clients, to capture all the relevant information needed to produce the most custom and tailored product. This step keeps the focus on the real people who will use the end product in real-world situations while managing expectations and expense most efficiently.

This post was written by David Tesche. David is a senior developer at Maverick Technologies, a leading automation solutions provider offering industrial automation, strategic manufacturing, and enterprise integration services for the process industries. Maverick delivers expertise and consulting in a wide variety of areas including industrial automation controls, distributed control systems, manufacturing execution systems, operational strategy, business process optimization and more. 

Maverick Technologies is a CSIA member as of 5/24/2016

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