UX – The Difference between Storyboard, User Journey and User Story

A storyboard template

Most people start of using a storyboard template or are able to create one of their own on the fly

Another “Pay it forward” post.  Someone asked this question today and after providing them with the answer I was grimly reminded of how little professionals fail to include these UX activities in their web or application projects.  When I first started out in this industry I didn’t understand the power of how Storyboard, User Story and User Journey can influence your end product.  I soon learned my lesson as I got to grips with animation early in my career and now, I include this stage as a default in my projects.

All three definitions, Storyboard, User Story and User Journey are crucial in my opinion to the planning and production of whatever it is you are creating in the web, web anime or video world. But what is the difference between them and do you need to include these in your projects?

Let’s briefly run through what each of these mean.

Story Board

It’s a graphical representation of how your web app / video / or anime piece will play out. Visually showing what, when and how it happens.

User Story

This is a concise description from the perspective of the user of how they will achieve a particular task. For example; “As a ‘type of user’, I want ‘some goal’ so that ‘some reason’.”

User Journey

This is a described series of steps that show how a typical user would interact with the web app that is being designed.

How a User Story is Different from a User Journey

Again this does depend on the context of its usage but a User Story in my experience is based on a specific user, so this could cater for a particular type of user to answer a specific problem whereas a User Journey can be a random user that may use the web app. This also includes Dynamic User Journey Scenarios.

Note: Based on context, a User Journey and Story can be one and the same.

Why do you need to consider including these activities in your projects?

For Storyboards there are a few good reasons:

  • It’s a great way to visualise your plans to others
  • It makes the production of your project easier
  • It saves you time in the long run

A User Story has good supporting use cases as well:

  • Useful for planning
  • Great for time constrained projects providing only high level information
  • Avoids including too much detail too early in the project
  • Does not box in other team members (e.g., developers)

The same goes for a User Journey:

  • Better understand perception and performance of a product
  • Better understand user behaviour
  • Identify possible high level functionality
  • Helps in defining your taxonomy and interface
  • Provides confidence that the end solution is created around and for real people

Ultimately when considering including these activities in your projects, also think about the creative people you will also need to include in the early on discussions, such as the Designers, the Information Architects and of course the User Experience specialists.

Some resources:

User Journey:

StoryBoard:

User Stories:

4 Comments

  1. Leni Kago says:

    Hi there, thanks for the brief definitions. My question where do I start – do I first write user stories and then map the user journey or vice versa? And at which point in the process should I create the story board? Thank you!

    • Desi says:

      You really want to start mapping out the user journey in your case Leni. It makes sense to try to understand what the user is trying to look at, where are they going in their journey.

      After which it will be easier to map out the user stories, preferably via a UX Design Workshop. Hope this helps.

  2. Chris R says:

    I’ve found that the way user stories are often written for Agile is that they bake in the solution, rather than focusing on the motivation of the user, what “job” he/she is trying to get done. It abstracts an actual human being trying to get something done with your product into a demographically defined “user” label.

    Compare:
    “As a teacher, I want to build a wordlist so that I can assign it to a student. ”
    vs
    “As a teacher of students learning English, I want to be able to easily create lessons with my school’s curriculum so that I can help them expand their vocabulary.”

    Version 1 already has the solution: create code to build a wordlist and a button to assign it. Version 2 is focusing on what the teacher is trying to accomplish, without predetermining the best way to get there.

  3. Angela Amy says:

    Great article! Its really great idea to get education to those who could not make it themselves.

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