Once upon a time, in a magical kingdom called the internet, an engineer tried to improve his UX Design…
Let’s try a little experiment. Close your eyes. Now, can you tell me the story of the Three Little Pigs? How about Snow White? I bet you can, right? Even if you haven’t thought about them for years, stories stay in our memories like nothing else. Bullet points might look neat and clean on a webpage, but they don’t have the same effect. That’s why it’s important to use storytelling in your UX, so your product or service will stay fresh in your customers’ memories.
The best products and services appeal to us on three different levels. First is visceral – that’s direct, visual appeal. Then, the behavioral level focused on usability and use. Finally, we have the reflective level, and that’s what we’re interested in today. The reflective level governs our memories of a service or product. And this is where storytelling comes in handy.
How can we use storytelling techniques?
Right now, you might well be freaking out, but don’t worry. You don’t need to be JK Rowling to use storytelling effectively. You just need to know the basic elements of how a story works:
Back in 1984, an Apple commercial showed a young woman taking a sledgehammer to a giant computer screen. More than twenty years later, people still remember it. Why? Because that one simple advert neatly encapsulated the company’s philosophy. So what’s your company’s philosophy? You must have a reason for what you’re doing, right? Simon Sinek said, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” So why do you do what you do?
There’s no room for ego here. I hate to break it to you, but you’re not the hero in this story. Neither is your brand, your service or your product. You’re the sidekick, the supportive best friend, the Robin. Ouch, I know.
So who’s the hero? That’s simple: your customer. The entire purpose of your brand is to enable your customer to succeed. It’s all about them, what they want, and how you can deliver it.
Once upon a time, a prince and a princess got married and lived happily ever after.
Would you pay to watch that film? I bet you wouldn’t. Why? Because stories need conflict. Your customer must have a problem to solve, or why will he use your product? So start by identifying this problem. Look at some of the most successful companies out there, and you’ll find a simple goal of conflict resolution at their core. Want to send messages to a group of friends? Whatsapp. Hungry and short on time? McDonalds. Trying to hail a cab as quickly, cheaply and painlessly as possible? Uber.
What conflict is your company trying to resolve?
Don’t worry, we’re not going to get into literary theory here. But for those of you who flunked out of Lit 101, a story needs three things: a beginning, a middle, and an end.
How does this equate to the world of UX? Well, the typical customer journey also has three parts. We begin with Recruitment when a user first gives your service a go. Next comes Retention – the actual moment of use. Finally, we have Recovery. That’s the end of the usage, which – if everything goes well – should be followed by repeated use and spreading the word.
Did you cry when you watched Titanic? Not even a little tear? Be honest!
Stories need emotional reactions to succeed. Think about all the emotions you might feel when you’re reading a great book or watching a fantastic movie. Remember the characters from Inside Out? They’re all on the list: joy, anger, sadness, disgust, and fear.
Well, let’s be honest. For the vast majority of products, we can forget about most of those emotional reactions. Let’s focus on joy. How can we achieve that?
When you read a great book, what do you do? Take it back to the library and never think about it again? Or do you recommend it to your friends?
All the best stories are spread by word of mouth. That’s what you want for your product, too. Happy users lead to more happy users, each with their own story to uncover.
So what are you waiting for? I hope you got 6 storytelling techniques. It’s time to get your story out there…