Telling a story

Reading Time: 2 minutes

In my experience, service design is mostly about telling – and selling – stories.

Telling the stories of people we’ve met through user research. Understanding what makes life difficult for them, and adjusting our approach to accommodate what they need.

Telling these stories helps us make sure our UX designers and developers and content designers can update our services in ways that accommodate those needs. And mostly, that works out fine.

But sometimes, we have to sell a story.

Selling a story

When we sell stories, we’re talking about the future. Where we want to be in 6-12-18 months. A possible future.

That’s where storyboards are useful.


A storyboard looks like this.

A 3x2 storyboard illustrating the steps set out below. The frames mix real photographic backgrounds with illustrated simple figures overlaid on top.
Storyboards illustrate a story and bring it to life for stakeholders.

There are 6 frames in this storyboard:

  1. Account Manager at meeting with client
  2. Account Manager walks back to car
  3. Account Manager dictates note of meeting into their phone
  4. Back in the office, all the information is already in the CRM system
  5. Account Manager shares meeting note with client
  6. Account Manager shares notes with account team

Storyboards are a common artefact in film and TV production. When I worked as a copywriter in advertising, I would collaborate with the art director to produce them for TV commercials.

They were a simple visual guide to what the finished broadcast should look, and feel like, to go along with the screenplay – which is the detailed instruction, if you like.

Our work is all in the gaps

This storyboard says nothing about us in the digital teams at Scottish Enterprise. We’re not in this picture.

That’s deliberate. We shouldn’t be. We’re the folks who clear the runway, who surface the roads.

Digital should be invisible to the people who use it. It’s a utility now. Get used to it.

Our job now is to take this imagined future and make it real.

And that’s all in the gaps between those frames.

  • How do we transcribe audio (in a Scottish accent!) into accurate text transcription ?
  • How do we associate that with a particular meeting with a particular person at a particular client on a particular date at a particular location at a particular time?
  • Where does that information go?
  • Who gets to see it?
  • How do we ensure the information we gather is accurate?
  • How do we make sure it get to the right people, and only those who need to know?

Guess we have work to do.

 | Website

I'm a service designer in Scottish Enterprise's unsurprisingly-named service design team. I've been a content designer, editor, UX designer and giant haystacks developer on the web for (gulp) over 25 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.