What is design storytelling?

Author
Steph Garville, Created
Date
22.07.20

Stories are how we entertain ourselves, sure, but to really understand what stories are in the context of design, we need to remember they’re also a spectacular communication tool. Human beings are hard-wired to look for stories in everything. It’s an ability we all have, across cultures, countries and reaching way back to the dawn of time.

Why? Our ancestors developed it because they needed a better way to teach, warn and inspire each other.

Storytelling in Design

Design storytelling is the best way to get information across in a memorable way, because it immerses us in an emotional experience. In other words, we feel like we understand that thing, or we’ve been to that place, without actually experiencing it in real life. We feel like this as our memories are built to process our past and present in a narrative way.

Storytelling in Design

When we weave storytelling into design, we’re tapping into that primal need in our audience to understand and feel, as well as enjoy. It adds another dimension to your work and layers meaning into your aesthetics.

Pretty neat, huh?

How is storytelling used in the design process?

Including storytelling in your design process lets you step right into the inner world of your audience. It builds trust, empathy and an emotional connection no amount of slick graphics can achieve. So cool your jets, aesthetics junkies.

By researching your target users, you can create design stories reflecting your audience’s tastes, struggles and how you can help them. When you tell their story, they will feel seen and understood; one of the core things all human beings crave.

Storytelling - I see you

If you can craft meaningful stories for your audience, they won’t just buy the product or use the brand: they’ll fall in love.

Not in the flowers and chocolates way, but you get it.

Stories also have great structure to them, which makes planning your project and marketing your design work so much easier. When you hand over your work to the marketing, sales or customer service team, they’ll find it that much easier to use because the storytelling gives the product value. It does all the hard work of convincing your audience to listen, without overselling.

After all, no-one likes a desperate sales pitch.

Storytelling - Sales Pitch

So, we’ve covered the basics of design storytelling and how it’s used, but why do you need to know about it? Isn’t getting the right look the most important thing? Not necessarily.

See what we’re getting at in the next instalment on why design storytelling is so important.

Related Resources

How I Got Here: Michael Drayton

In episode 1 of our How I Got Here podcast series, we chat to 3D Motion Designer Michael Drayton about all things career and industry insights.

Related Courses