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How do I Create Storyboards? - Practices

Storyboards are an essential tool when designing computer-based training systems. They help keep developers, graphic artists, and subject matter experts all on the same page while working together. This can save you large amounts of time and money while avoiding truly unpleasant surprises. Tony Leonard explains all the elements of storyboards, and how to use them.

  1. Creating and Using Storyboards
  2. What is a Storyboard?
  3. Storyboards as Documentation
  4. Basic Form
  5. Question and Feedback Form
  6. How do I Create Storyboards?
  7. Automated Storyboard Tools
By: Tony Leonard
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November 15, 2004

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The examples included in this article show how a word processor can be used. However, using these examples, there was still a need to do a sketch of the graphic on the basic and animation form. Frankly, I donít see any way around that. I know some of my colleagues say that words can adequately describe a graphic, but thereís still that old adage: a picture is worth a thousand words. My only problem with using just words for this component is that it does take a lot of them. One of the things Iíve learned about interfaces is that when it comes to buttons, the most effective way to label them is to use words and pictures, and I think that applies here. You donít have to be van Gogh, but a sketch and words will make it easier to understand and requires fewer questions on the back end.

Other ways Iíve seen people create storyboards have included using databases and automated storyboarding tools. The database option was a custom database that used special forms on the screen that instructional designers used to input their information. Much of the input is exactly the sort of stuff that I described previously. Then, special report formats were created that pulled all this information out of the database and printed it for review.

The biggest problem with this approach was that it was a custom system that needed constant tweaking. Despite the developers setting standards and using templates, there were always exceptions that didnít fit and required the screen forms and report formats to be updated quite regularly. Or they required that fields on the screen form be used for purposes other than what was originally intended, which caused a problem for the benefits of such an approach.

One benefit was that if you wanted just the audio scripts, you could print out a report with just the audio scripts. Another benefit was that you could import the screen text from the database instead of retyping it from scratch. In certain authoring tools it also meant that there was an external source of the text that, when updated in the database, caused the CBT to be dynamically updated as well. This last benefit would make the large effort this approach required worthwhile. However, if your authoring tool canít do this, Iím not sure Iíd go this way initially. It might be more practical to wait until you have done a project or two, using something like the word processor forms to see if youíve captured whatís needed for your type of project, then use those forms as the basis of the database, screen forms, and report formulas.

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