Key action storyboarding

User onboarding is a journey made up of multiple activities, not a single, linear flow. Onboarding should align guidance independently around each of the “key actions” of its experience so that newcomers can interact with them at the pace and in the order that makes sense for their different situations.

Image showing a template for a key action storyboard, separated into prompt, work, and follow-up panels.

In an earlier post, I covered how to identify key actions. In that same post, I covered how to break key actions down into 3 parts: the prompt(s), the part that encourage someone to initiate action, the work, the tasks and/or decisions that make up the action, and its follow-up, the part that closes out the action and points people to meaningful next steps.

There are 2 reasons to break a key action into these parts:

  • First, it makes it easier to see where guidance is needed, and how to apply it throughout the course of action. This leads to interactive, user-paced guidance, instead of assuming all of the guidance is meant to be shown before someone begins it.
  • Second, the follow-up component forces designers to think about how one key action can lead to other key actions. It helps teams think of onboarding as a flexible, user-defined path instead of as one linear path designed by us.

Downloadable storyboard template

To help your teams to break down your key actions, I’ve created a downloadable storyboard template. This template has 3 panels for the prompt, work, and follow-up stages of a key action. At the bottom of each panel is what to think about when sketching the flow across these states.

Use one template per key action. Start by listing out the different contexts in which it’d be relevant to prompt someone to do that key action. Each context might require a different approach to its prompt, work, and follow-up, so try sketching a storyboard for that key action encountered in each of those contexts to see how wide the differences might be.

Download the template here

Note: This post and the template have been updated with new terminology. What once was previously called “Triggers” and “Activity” are now called “Prompts” and “Work”.