Storyboarding for workshops

My process for designing workshops is never the same from one event to the next. But one thing I frequently include is storyboarding. I took some notes on why and how I storyboarded for a recent workshop, “Creating a user onboarding compass,” in the hopes that you may find it helpful in your own process.

A photograph of various storyboard panels created for a workshop called "Creating a user onboarding compass"

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A template for key action modules

A photograph of a filled-out key action storyboard

Onboarding won’t succeed if it’s a passive, standalone, rigid flow. It needs to be a well-integrated part of your core product experience. To achieve this, onboarding must focus on the key actions that lead users to long-term success, retention, and engagement. And, to accommodate users in different situations, it needs to be flexible enough to allow these key actions to appear in different orders.

In an earlier post, I covered how to identify key actions. In that same post, I also covered how to break key actions down into modules so they can be scaffolded with guidance. The 3 parts of a key action module are its trigger (the part that initiates action), its activity (the heart of the action), and its follow-up (the part that closes out the action and moves people on to next available key actions).

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Free salt brushes for Procreate

I’ve long tried to use iPad drawing apps, like Procreate or Photoshop, to simulate my traditional watercolor painting work. Until recently I had no luck using these tools to make anything decently watercolor-ish. But with Procreate 4’s introduction of wet canvas + brush dynamics, an Apple Pencil, and a set of lovely, free watercolor brushes from Abbie at Uproot Jewellery, I’ve been thrilled at how close I can get to the real thing. The only thing missing has been a good set of salt brushes (I use a lot of salt in my paintings to simulate textures like dense fields of coral), so I created 6 of my own. And now you can use them, too!

An image showing 6 swatches of salt brush textures

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Onboarding for many

In an earlier post, I covered how onboarding is more than just a one-time event in a customer’s journey. In this post, I’ll be making the case for applying more than one onboarding method. Just as students will fail to learn if taught with a one-size-fits-all approach, trying to onboard every user in the same way is bound to fail.

Illustration showing too many people being forced to use a one size onboarding technique

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Using 3rd-party screenshots in a presentation

Instructional presentations in the design and tech world often benefit when they include examples outside of a speaker’s own work. If you’re a presenter or working towards being one, chances are you’ve realized how helpful 3rd-party screenshots and recordings can be in illustrating a point, and how easy they are to capture from sites and apps. You were probably trained to get permission before adding 3rd-party music, photos, and other creative works that aren’t already in the public domain or under an open-sharing license like the Creative Commons copyright license in your slides. But, have you considered doing the same for screenshots and screen recordings?

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Building onboarding for long-term guidance

In a previous post, we looked at multiple opportunities over time for user onboarding techniques to be useful in our products. If we design for those opportunities ad hoc, we risk unscalable designs and frustrating users with fragmented education. Instead, let’s see how to tackle onboarding design so that it fits into a long-term approach to guidance.

Illustration of infinity symbol

When designed as part of a long-term approach to guidance, the seam between everyday user education and onboarding can be invisible.

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From first run to the long run

I often evangelize the importance of first time user experiences. After all, not all of the users acquired to a product will stick around, but they’ll all experience its first run design. To encourage return use, that first impression must be solid. But it’s also very common for designers to overemphasize the first run experience at the expense of long-term user support.

Illustration showing that a first run experience ends up ending too soon to help users complete their journey on the path to engagement and retention

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How watercolor promotes a prototyping mindset

Feature image for "How Watercolor promotes a prototyping mindset"

I used to be intimidated by watercolor. It seemed so unwieldy compared to the acrylic, pencil, ink, and digital media I’d grown accustomed to using during my BFA program. For years I shied away from it, despite the fact that those who could control it made beautiful, airy paintings that were nearly impossible to simulate in Procreate or Photoshop.

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What shaped you?

People can be shaped by a mix of factors: genes, people, places, events, both the good and the bad. Everyone is a unique blend. As good product designers, we consider these contexts in relation to the users for whom we design, with the intent of creating experiences that suit their needs and expectations. But we don’t often take as much time to understand what has shaped us. Why do we gravitate to the problems and solutions that we do? A little self reflection in uncertain times can help us realign to higher quality, impactful projects and can also remind us, as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, to thank those that had a positive impact on who we are now.

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“Free sample” idea boards

Attendees of my “New Users Matter, Too” talks have graciously brainstormed ideas for free samples–experiences that allow new users to interact with a portion of a product’s value proposition before committing to an account. These methods can increase valuable signups and reduce the walls that prevent conversion. Use these ideas to kickstart your team’s exploration of a free sample that’s right for your product.

Free Samples Feature Image

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Evaluating onboarding experiences

If you’re designing your product’s first onboarding flow or improving an existing one, you’ll need to evaluate its performance. A good assessment process helps you find opportunities for improvement and justifies the resources you need to make the new user’s experience awesome.

Often, teams measure onboarding myopically, like a feature in isolation. Apps measure clickthrough rate in an introductory slideshow. Sites measure how many people sign up. Devices measure how quickly someone gets through a setup wizard. These kinds of measurements are immediate, cheap, and easily automated. But, while they’re easy, they don’t show whether an onboarding design is contributing to or detracting from a new user’s overall success.

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Engaging new users: Personal focus

This is the last post in the 3-part “Engaging new users” series. Part 1 covered guided interaction, the practice of educating users in a realistic context, and how it is more compelling than slideshows, videos or static instruction.  In part 2, we learned how to use free samples to demonstrate a product’s value proposition and build the trust needed to encourage sign-up.

And in today’s post, part 3, we’ll examine how giving new users a personal focus is the key to making these onboarding techniques stick.

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