Helping clients: it’s the story, not the boards

I recently reconnectd with Anne Derryberry, whom I’ve heard speak at conferences in the past.  She posted the other day about sweating the small stuff (echoing Michelangelo, who apocryphally said that trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle).

She was talking in part about how inadequate paper storyboards can be.  That reminded me of something I worked up for a client who’d never done online learning before.  I knew from painful experience that storyboards aren’t the best tool to help the client visualize the end-product; all too often, the finished, coded course turns into the first draft.

So I worked up what I called an interactive storyboard–really, just a PowerPoint slideshow with hyperlinks in it.  The goal was to show how a learner would work through one of the ethics scenarios that would form the basis of the course.  We wanted to let each person mull over the ethics question (based on real-life ones supplied by the agency’s legal department) and decide whether and how to find out more.

As a storyboard, this let the stakeholders–most of whom were not training developers–see firsthand how their concerns and ideas would appear to the people who would complete the ethics training.

If you’d like to see, here it is (it’s PowerPoint; run it in slideshow mode).   Don’t click too randomly– I didn’t do error trapping. You have to click in the right places, though you don’t have to choose the right answer.

If you didn’t look at it, you certainly won’t want to after you see what Anne posted.  (Click the image to go to her post.)

She’s not only serious–she’s good.

5 thoughts on “Helping clients: it’s the story, not the boards

  1. I’m a fan of the “wireframe” approach you use in PPT. So many times, clients who’ve reviewed the “storyboard” (a word document) and approved it, say “that’s not working for me” once they see the actual course. So then the rework begins. I blame the storyboards, not the client. Finding a more visual way to storyboard is key (but can be time consuming!) On the other hand, I’m not so sure how I feel about the robot talk-show.

  2. “Wireframe” — I hadn’t thought of it that way, but I like it. I’ve often had clients who carefully reviewed the storyboard (content, questions, feedback) but didn’t seem to grasp the whole until the page had been coded. At that point, the changes came fast and furious.

    So the PowerPoint storyboard was an experiment. We were okay with the broad objectives, and the client’s examples were high-quality. I needed to help them see how this wouldl look, but didn’t have time to code actual screens.

    I see Anne’s demo as a quick example, sort of a proof-of-concept, and I can only imagine what you could do with it given a little time and a real problem to address.

    As with so many things, the choice of tool depends on what you want to accomplish. I can imagine many settings in which my wireframe would be utterly ignored.

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