Design Comics / Examples

Buying Tickets Online Storyboard

Above is a thumbnail version of a design comic storyboard, Sugar Plum Nightmare in D Minor: Mary Goes to the Nutcracker.  Here's  an Acrobat PDF version of the same comic storyboard so you can read it up close.

This particular story shows the main character excited and hopeful about buying ballet tickets, then getting frustrated by the online buying process, and then disappointed, and finally deteremined to solve her problem by spending her money on a different entertainment option. Usually -- for either a negative story like this one, or a positive story -- we'll add recommendations at the end of the story in bulleted form about how to improve the experience.

Here is a seven-minute video we put together at Cisco to explain the quick and easy process:

What Makes a Good Design Comic?

Comics are visual storytelling. They have all of the advantages of storyboarding, with the big plus that you can add a human element that weaves a story together. Here are some things to think about in crafting your story:
  • What is your objective?
    • Are you working through a new design and simply need a character to think through the human element?
    • Are you educating people about an existing experience that needs work?
    • Are there specific points that need making that ? Areas that need explanation?
  • What is the situation that makes the story interesting?
  • Do you have a likeable/believable hero/protagonist?
  • When and where is the story? Adding hints about the character's job, geography and other situations will make the story more interesting and add context.
  • What is your tone: Positive, Negative, Neutral?
    • Note that tension and some negative scenes usually make the story more interesting
    • On the other hand, stories that show some hopeful outcome or some desired state can rally your colleagues to action
    • If you're using comics as a kind of design storyboarding, an useful format is to start with negatives showing current or past problems, and then illustrate a desired state. You can have your colleagues or (better) customers help you illustrate the story.
  • Another common format is a three-act play: (1) A hero... (2) has a problem... (3) and solves it (or not)
Thanks to Stephen Denning for some of these insights.

Credits: These templates were developed by Martin Hardee with inspiration from Casey Cameron, Kevin Cheng, and the web design teams at Sun Microsystems, Cisco and other companies. Illustrations, by ISD Group, are free for you to use. Please add a credit line at the end of your slides or storyboards (see the slides for an example).

Site created by Martin Hardee