Using PowerPoint for Storyboards

On my design team, the main work product is PowerPoint storyboards.  We deliver these files to Engineering.  In a nutshell they include:

  • A linear walk-through of the feature in fairly high fidelity
  • Animation for menus, drag n drop and mouse movements
  • Call-outs describing detailed system behavior
  • Slide Master background looks like the application
  • Cut/paste pre-made elements for forms, grids, trees and other UI

Size of the PowerPoint depends on the complexity of the feature:

  • Small: 3-10 slides
  • Medium: 10-30 slides
  • Large: 30-120 slides

The Good Parts
I haven’t seen other people use this methodology, but it really gives a very clear way to describe the feature.  It’s easy to share (everyone has PowerPoint).  It is high fidelity enough to use in Marketing and Sales situations.  Even in a presentation, it lends itself to use because it’s in PowerPoint already.  It’s also proven to be a very fast tool to design with, once you have a decent template.  Lastly, the learning curve for PowerPoint is tiny.  It’s a really easy tool to learn.

We don’t currently make it a clickable prototype, but that is certainly possible using PowerPoint’s built-in navigation and functionality.

The Missing Ingredient
The only drawback is that you can’t have an element in PowerPoint be shared among many slides.  For example, if you had some text that is used in 30 slides.  You can’t update the text in one spot and have it change on all 30 slides.  In other words, a shared library of controls.

If I had this feature, I would use it extensively.  We could have a “combobox” that inherits style from the library.  We could have a tree with specific nodes and update it en masse.  This would turn PowerPoint into a tool that could be more abstracted.  It would take it to the next level.

Always Experimenting
This weekend, I tried using Antetype for a project.  (No real judgement yet.)  I am always looking for a better way to deliver the work product that my colleagues need.  Although, there are things about Antetype that I like, the lack of animation and easy call-outs make it hard to produce the proper PRD specifications for a feature.  I would end up cutting and pasting screens into PowerPoint anyway.

Always keep your eye on the future.  New tools and new ways of doing things can increase your effectiveness.  Upward and onward.

2 replies on “Using PowerPoint for Storyboards”

Its good for when you are designing a new look and feel. For when you are designing a new flow in an existing system, it just took too long.

Whatya think?