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Storyboardography, Website Development and Coding

My lack of genius requires me to be a storyboardographer. Having worked with clients of all shapes and sizes, I’ve learned to rely on storyboard-ing a project so that the buyer can get a feel for the UI and the flow before the coding begins. The way I do that is layout a non-working page with links to other non-working pages. The buyer can then practice with the non-working program, get a feel for how it will work, request changes, and eventually come to an agreement all before I commit to coding. The film industry and the comic book industry are best known users of storyboards but I believe every discipline relies on them in some shape or form.

Some might argue that geniuses like Mozart and Ray Bradbury had no need for storyboards. They just sat down and coded until they were done. Masterpiece. Next project. No storyboards required. But I figure their storyboards came pre-coded so that when they finished the project layout phase, their project was complete and ready for delivery.

Front-end page builders are a form of pre-coded storyboards. They allow me to deliver completed websites at a Ray Bradbury like pace. As soon as I’m done laying out the website as a set of storyboards, I’m done with the website (well almost done). That’s why I like them so much.

Regardless of how or when one creates project storyboards, I believe every project requires them. And all reasonable clients will pay for storyboards if you insist on having them before diving into development. Storyboards save clients time and money. Storyboards translate imagination into a legible expression. And storyboards provide a context for code.

What doesn’t work is expecting clients to provide their own storyboards. Asking clients to translate their imagination into something tangible is not fair. It burdens the client with another thing to do and it delays the project for no good reason. Lots of people are creative but I believe few are fluent storyboardographers.

So instead of requiring clients to independently formulate their ideas, I co-create with them through an interview process. We describe the storyboards together while I sketch them out in my notebook. For most websites I can deliver the completed storyboards pre-coded which makes me super fast at delivering completed websites. For software development, it is better for me to create non-working linked storyboard pages as mentioned earlier. I’ve found project scopes written without storyboards to be up for interpretation and subject to scope creep.

What are your experiences with the use or non-use of storyboards? How have you leveraged storyboardography in your work?

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