As we continue our design bootcamp this week, there’s still dark patches clouding aspects of the process for me, but I found a sense of clarity today through making vignettes and storyboarding product ideas. Humans naturally appreciate the value of visual storytelling. Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams beautifully illuminates how our ancestors drew vignettes of their lives in the Chauvet Cave in Southern France as long as 32,000 years ago. Drawing doesn’t come naturally to me and I find it quite uncomfortable, but as a visual artist, I’ve previously experienced the value of externalizing my ideas on the page at different points within my artistic practice.
Now I’m discovering how vital creating a visual representation of an idea is to the design process. As the engineer of a big idea, even a cursory vignette of a particular value innovation can bring clarity to defining the product. When I set out today to sketch a vignette of a product we were proposing in terms of how it would fit into the broader context of a person’s life, I was forced to consider the idea from the point of view of the user. It also very quickly highlighted the gaps in my understanding of the product. With a full storyboard, the idea became more than a hazy concept; it sprang to life as a concrete thing that made sense in the context of our problem space.
After each team finished a storyboard of their product concept, we shared them as a group. Suddenly we all got swept up in discussing the details of each product because the storyboards allowed us to get a tangible sense of how they would be used. Today’s experience was further evidence of what a powerful tool visual storytelling can be within the larger design process, and as uncomfortable as it will undoubtedly be, it’s time for me to get to work on some drawing practice.