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Storytelling is a useful technique to communicate and engage others in complex ideas and concepts, share knowledge and spark action. People remember stories.

Why it’s useful

In the design context storytelling is about structuring a narrative to:

  • actively engage others — business partners, team members, collaboration partners, users, customers
  • share research insights and information
  • grow knowledge and understanding.

When to do it

Storytelling is useful in the understand phase, and during prototyping in the develop phase as a way to generate, describe, evolve or validate a concept.

Understand phase

Develop phase

How to do it

Identify what you want to achieve with storytelling — for example, endorsement for an approach, engagement with the project’s purpose, sharing research to build understanding and develop a new direction.

Use these questions to help build your content:

  • What result do you want from the story?
  • What is the business need your story connects to?
  • What ideas are you representing?
  • Who are your characters and what are they doing that illustrates your purpose?


We went out and saw this builder who runs his business from his truck — his office is basically the passenger seat. He told us that a typical day for him was driving to see his brother, who’s his accountant, to check cashflow and driving to the site. He might be on-site for 6 hours — dealing with issues around materials, work-progress and staff — 1 guy that works for him hadn’t turned up for 4 days! That meant he had to find a replacement and get his brother to fix the pay information for the week — he did that on the front seat while we were there!

It really made us think about designing services that are easier for him, when he’s never in one place long enough to read anything much and when his bigger concern is getting the building job done.

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