On the FBTB workshop day Donna Lichaw teaches her popular Storymapping the User Experience, based on the methods in her latest book. You will learn how simple storytelling techniques can transform your next idea, product, campaign, or strategy from good to great. Don't miss out! Here's an exciting interview with her.
What is the background for your workshop? How did you come up with the idea having it?
– Several years ago, I was teaching and authoring the curriculum for an intensive user experience design and product management course – that had more contact hours than I'd ever taught before. As a teacher, it's challenging to keep students engaged for 2 hours a week, let alone 6 hours a week.
– As I was preparing my lectures and classes, I wondered if I could apply the same foundational technique I used as a filmmaker to make documentary films – that's what I did before working in tech – to making presentation decks and lessons for my students. As filmmakers know, if you want to engage your audience, you have to have a story at the foundation of your film. And that story has to have a certain kind of architecture that goes back millennia to Aristotle and old Greek stage plays: narrative architecture. Much to my pleasure, it worked. With a solid narrative structure to my classes and the semester, I was able to not only engage my students with my material, but they were more likely to get interested, stay interested over time, attend class, retain the information they learned, and more effectively use it on their projects.
The product went from something that users were confused by to one that helped them do amazing things
– During this time, I was also working at a startup with a failing product. As the head of product, it was my responsibility to turn the product around and get users to want to use the product, love using it, and recommend it to others. I wondered if the same narrative technique—mainly mapping the story of the product out before ever touching a pixel or piece of code—would work for a digital product as it did for my course, which is also a product that people essentially engage with and use. We mapped everything. And it worked! The product went from something that users were confused by and not interested in using to one that helped them do amazing things. Once we re-built the product as one with a solid story architecture flowing through it, users were more likely to sign up to use it, enjoy using it, keep using it, and recommend it to others. With a story at it's foundation, no the startup is successful. One by-product of mapping stories with my executive, design, engineering, marketing, and even QA teams was that they all felt ownership of the story as we strived to build a superior product. And in feeling ownership, it was easier to collaborate, get buy-in, and communicate what we were building to stakeholders, investors, and especially our users.
They frequently apply the techniques
– Since I'm a teacher at heart, I translated all of the workshopping activities I conducted with this startup and every client since into a training workshop so that anyone can learn how to map stories for their products.
What do people mostly remember – when it´s been a while – of the workshop?
– I'm so pleased by not just how much people retain from my workshop, but how much and how frequently they apply the techniques they learned to their own work. Often, past attendees reach out to tell me about how, using what they learned in the workshop, they came up with a new idea or concept at work, got leadership excited and onboard to sponsor the project, and ultimately designed and built something new that exceeded everyone's goals. As someone who uses the techniques that I teach daily on my own projects, it makes me happy to be able to share these techniques and to see people having such success with them. It's why I teach this workshop and also why I wrote my new book, The User's Journey. After the workshop, attendees have a handy guide that they can keep on their desk for whenever they're working on something new and want to engage an audience.
Shortly, how will the day look, the workshop day?
– We start the day by digging into the mechanics of story, how it works, and how it applies to not just traditional "stories," but products and services. Then attendees learn about a few different types of stories that weave through successful products. We spend time exploring, mapping, and refining these stories for real products. Through different exercises and activities, attendees not only learn how to craft a simple story that they can apply to being more effective in any work – or life – context, they learn how to better define what their product is, why anyone would use it, how they would use it, and how or why they would recommend others use it.
– This is the key to successful products and just happens to be the key to successful story development. Attendees will then learn how to apply the techniques they learned to different types of projects and work contexts so that they can better ideate, prototype, test, and ultimately communicate why what they are building is awesome and why users, and stakeholders, should get excited.