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Do I need a Storyboard?

August 13, 2020

Growing up, my mother used to emphatically tell me, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail’.  This mantra applied to knowing where I was going as a newly qualified driver, teaching me how to plan meals as a student with a limited budget and setting study plans for getting through exams.  It seems fitting, therefore, that as a fully fledged Instructional Designer, my job is all about planning to ensure that each eLearning project is a success.

As part of an eLearning process, one of the major planning documents is a storyboard.  Depending on the industry you work in, a storyboard can have different meanings.  In the eLearning context, a storyboard represents each page of eLearning, what it will look like, how it will move through different interactions, whether there will be voiceover, colours, special instructions and the main communication tool between the client, designer and developer.

At the EMA, we choose to produce storyboards for all our eLearning projects because:

  1. It’s a way of planning before executing – you wouldn’t build a house without a set of plans, just like we don’t produce eLearning content without our plan. It’s a way to know what the completed design will include and look like prior to going into production.
  2. Changes are much easier on a storyboard – once a project goes into production, changes are time consuming and costly. At this storyboarding stage, it is much quicker and cheaper to make any changes that may be needed.
  3. We want you to be involved in the production process – you know your brand better than anyone! While we try our best, you are the best person to tell us if you would like specific images, colours, animations etc and a storyboard allows us to do that.

We are more than just designers at EMA, we are Learning and Development professionals.  This means when we storyboard your content, we don’t just want something that looks good, we want to design exactly what learners and your organisation need from a Learning and Development perspective.

Some eLearning designers don’t use storyboards, especially when there is a tight timeframe or one person is juggling multiple roles like Instructional Designer, Developer, Salesperson and Project Manager!  The risk of not using a storyboard is that you, the client, don’t get to have the input in the design process and you end up with a completed piece of eLearning that doesn’t meet your needs. That leads to costly changes and takes more time.

I urge you to take on the mantra that was hammered into me – the storyboard is an integral planning tool in all eLearning projects.  It will ultimately save time, money and ensure you get the eLearning you want.

If you would like to know more about eLearning from EMA there is lots of information on our microsite, or contact us on learnit@ema.co.nz

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