Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The 4-Panel Storyboard Revised and Applied

I'm pushing clients really hard on using the 4-panel storyboard for initial project envisioning in my agile software development class this quarter. I'm having them use named persona and explicit pain points. I.e., instead of this

I want

I believe the 4-panel storyboard
  • forces clients to get real in panel 3 about what their value proposition actually looks like
  • properly discourages clients from developing the usual slew of data-entry wire-frames
  • provides the clients with an early user-testable object — "Has this happened to you?" "Does this look like something you could and would use?"
  • provides developers with a one-page, easy to read, contextualization of problem, target user, and intended benefit
  • defines the first clear deliverable,  i.e., a working version of panel 3

So far, coaching clients on developing the storyboards has been much easier than my previous attempts to coach clients on developing an MVP via a product box. (I still encourage product boxes, and some other elements of the Inception Deck.) Over ten quite different projects and clients, convergence has come pretty quickly:

  • They send me an initial draft, close but too busy
  • I send a revision cobbled together from pieces of their draft
  • They send a pretty decent final revision
This has been true for clients with and without software project experience.

I'll be watching now to see whether the storyboards appear to be improving initial client-developer communication, and if so, do they also improve the value of the initial deliverables.