for Creating GOOD Storyboards for the WWW
storyboard is essential to the effective and efficient
creation of a web site. Note the word efficient. Good
storyboards will facilitate ease of understand the structure
of a site, how information is to be presented
and what information is to be presented. Not
so good storyboards will make the designer and webmaster
spend time trying to interpret what was really meant
instead of working on the actual creation of the site/graphics.
The point here is to try to define just what makes a
bad storyboard and to come up with some guidelines
for good storyboards.
am drawing on my own experience here. These characteristics
are the most annoying and frustrating that I have found.
Too much information.
As many times as I've tried to let the person who creates
the bulk of our storyboards know that the screen can
hold only so much at one time, he insists on creating
storyboards that try to cram many very large, very detailed
images, and large blocks of text on the same screen.
I've attempted to explain the concept of INFORMATION
OVERLOAD, but it just doesn't sink in. I usually find
that I have to partition most screens into three or
more pages of information.
Inconsistent Structure. We
have a very defined structure for our pages, and the
type of activities and navigation on our site. Unfortunately,
the person working on the storyboards seems to try to
"reinvent the wheel" with every batch of storyboards.
He has this "thing" for having an identifying
icon to click back to the main page of a section, Often,
the icon really doesn't fit anywhere into the design,
or we already have navigation in place to do that. Or
he'll accompany the icon with the words "Click
the Icon to return to the main page." ?? What is
the point? We have a text navigation bar that the students
will use for the other eight areas. Why throw something
new at them now? We need to be consistent so that students
will be able to find information consistently.
Inconsistent Design. Why
is it so hard for some people to understand that we
can't redesign every page? A site needs to have a consistent
design through the use of color and layout, with a set
of about three variations for the type of information
on the page. There is the main page, which generally
holds more navigational information, a section page,
which organizes information by topic and gives introductions,
and a subsidiary page, which holds the actual information.
Sections may have different colors and the same general
layout and image "looks", or sections may
have slightly (very slightly) different layout and use
the same colors. If you use different layouts and colors,
you run the risk of your viewers becoming confused and
lost. You need to have a strong overall site identity.
Inappropriate Supporting Images. Part
of the problem here is that our storyboard person tends
to Xerox first and ask questions later. He'll include
copies of images pasted to the cards, and won't make
any reference to who created them, or where he got the
image. "Just find or create something similar."
Most of the time, I just write to our artist and let
him handle it. But if we are very close to deadline,
there may not be time to recreate an image or
diagram. A certain amount of original work is good,
but time consuming. I've asked him to look at our catalogs
of images that we've collected and have the rights to
use, and try to find appropriate images there from the
start (maybe 80% of images). He, as a content person,
has more of an idea about what he is trying to communicate
than we do.
Penciled in Handwriting. We
all have computers. I spend more time trying to decipher
handwriting than the person spent writing it. Plus,
pencil does not Xerox well, if at all. I end up having
to trace over text and sketches with a black pen, spending
more of my time (I do not get paid overtime) trying
to make them copy-ready.
Incomprehensible Numbering. A good numbering system
allows for the fact that storyboard cards may have to
be divided into two or more cards in order to show image
examples or more information. We usually create outlines
first, then use the outline numbers for both the storyboard
number and the HTML name of the file. This really helps
in creating site maps, too. A bad numbering system is
not understandable to anyone, and does not indicate
what section or topic that it belongs to.
Not Enough Information. A card with two words and
a little vague sketch is not a good card. At times I've
had to just set aside these vague cards, then schedule
a time to meet for further explanation. I'd rather have
what I need in front of me so I can just get most of
the HTML done in one sitting. It's worse when even our
other faculty members can't shed any light on what the
third meant to say or show.
Bad Storyboard CARD design. I spent a good chunk
of time figuring out what I needed in a storyboard card
meant specifically for page creation. One of our group
went ahead an made up his own based on a mutilmedia
card design and had them printed. The cards basically
had sections for just about everything except what I
needed. There were sections for music, special effects
and narration, none of which we were using. There weren't
any areas for image information, HTML file names, or
banner information, which were areas that I really
needed. I've spent all year crossing out the labels
and putting in my own. It's also confusing to the other
faculty members who are creating storyboards.
are the major problems I've experienced. There are others
that I'm sure I've forgotten, and won't remember until
I go back through the cards to see that everything is
Characteristics would then be as follows:
Approriate amounts of information (text and images)
for the screen.
Consistent Structure of Information and navigation.
Consistent Design of page layout and site identity.
Approriate Use of Supporting Images
Clear representation of text and image information.
Make sure that the handwritten information or sketches
are done or traced in black ink, so that cards can be
Consistent and Logical Numbering System. Allow
for additional cards, and use the numbering to identify
different sections of information.
Essential Information must be present on each
card. All the information needed for the person to create
the screen or page must be present on the card and must
Good Storyboard Card Design. If your tools are
not well designed, it is difficult to work with them,
or use them efficiently.
are by no means the only guidelines to use when making
storyboards or planning sites. These come from my own
personal experience. There are many, many more elements
that need to be considered than I could possibly cover
here. Just use your own judgement and logic.
March 26, 1999
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