Storytelling as a User Experience Superpower

Whitney Quesenbery · Monday, November 13 · 8:30am – 5:30pm · in Plaza A

Practice listening to and telling compelling stories. Create journey arcs and storyboards that identify and solve real user problems.

Learn powerful interviewing, sketching, and collaboration techniques that will align your teams. Deliver delightful solutions by uncovering user goals and motivations.

Whitney will show you what it takes to get people to sit up, take notice, and make the changes you want them to make.

The Day’s Agenda


Use storytelling to get into the mindset of users

  • Uncover the what, why, and how of data-driven stories about your users
  • Learn to craft stories to weave an experience and express complexity
  • Conduct purposeful, transparent user interviews by asking the right questions

Identify behavioral patterns across data-driven stories

  • Sift through the user data and find patterns to create in-depth stories for key personas
  • Identify which parts of the user experience require the most attention
  • Take advantage of stories to make a compelling case for solving the biggest design challenges


Create journey arcs to understand the current user experience and pain points

  • Understand the entire user experience, across all touch points
  • Apply story elicitation techniques, such as first person narratives, to channel your personas
  • Brainstorm approaches to create the users’ ideal experience

Integrate storytelling into your UX practices

  • Take advantage of sketching, storyboards and cartoons for brainstorming and iterations
  • Use stories to plan usability studies, write test scenarios, and conduct design walkthroughs
  • Use storytelling to support design decisions and refine ideas

A Solid Framework for Making UX Decisions

Stop designing in a bubble

Some teams jump to designing solutions before connecting their ideas to data. Use user interviews and storytelling to translate user research into a plan.

Focus on underlying user goals and motivations

With an effective story, all members of your design team will be prepared to connect solutions to real user needs. Everyone on your team will better understand the what’s, how’s, and why’s of your design approaches.

Improve your current user experience

Find out when your users feel frustrated—and why—at every touch point in their journey.

You’ll see how to:

  • Get to a common view of user problems, letting stories drive your design approaches
  • Apply storytelling to describe the user experience across all platforms
  • Integrate storytelling into your UX processes
  • Understand the big picture design priorities with storytelling as your guide
  • Tie research data directly to the solutions you create
  • Visualize your solutions with rich cartoons and sketches

Optimize Your UX Process with Storytelling

Establish a coherent UX process

Use stories to connect the dots from one part of a design to another, inform your early sketches, and provide design insights about users’ needs.

Deliver more powerful, compelling designs

Translate the flow of a good story to your UX, identify the users’ biggest pain points, and design the ideal experience.

Implement a UX-driven process for defining requirements

Use data-driven stories to drive your product requirements.

Encourage team collaboration

Get colleagues to talk openly, solve problems, and design user experiences together.

Solve Real Problems Using Storyboards, Cartoons, and Journey Maps

In hands-on exercises, you’ll tell and analyze dozens of stories starting with personas and a journey map, then with sketches, cartoons, and storyboards. You’ll also work individually and in small groups to create and analyze stories.

Whitney Quesenbery

Photo of Whitney Quesenbery

Here’s what Jared says about why he chose Whitney for UI22…

Combine a fascination with people and an obsession to communicate clearly and you’ve got the makings of a phenomenal UX researcher.

Now, throw in usability design experiences for organizations such as the National Cancer Institute and The New York Times, and ground-breaking research on democracy as a design problem for the Center for Civic Design, plus engaging interpersonal skills and you’ve got Whitney Quesenbery.

Whitney is an authority on gathering the user insights to “design products where people matter.” In fact, she’s authored three books on the subject. The most recent, A Web for Everyone, offers practical advice on making innovative and accessible sites. Storytelling for User Experience: Crafting stories for better design and Global UX: Design and research in a connected world help practitioners keep users in mind throughout the creative process.

Follow Whitney’s practical UX advice anytime on Twitter @whitneyq

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