Storyframing is an approach to digital design or digital service offering based on anticipated user behavior. It greatly assists designers in achieving customer retention and keeps repeat-use as a priority throughout the design phase. You can think of wireframing as a sketch of the design, and storyframing as the outline from the perspective of how users will move through the design.

Many processes are in place to understand or define user stories like service blueprints, consumer journey maps, storyboards, and user flow and use stories. But these aspects do not consider behavior change or any details of sustained user engagement.

By using storyframing, you can better understand the business needs and KPIs and consider how to cultivate repeat customers. A simple user journey will only tell you what customers are already doing. Storyframing allows you to guide customers through the product the way you want them to go.

You can use the storyframing process to adapt user persona data into a story arc. By identifying the elements of each user interaction, both online and offline, you can define moments in a narrative form. Storyframing largely depends on the actual UX design and existing user journeys.

It mainly builds on the existing frameworks by zeroing in on the behavior you want to encourage. The design of the narrative is a way to reward customers for specific actions that you want to increase. Here are some unusual steps that you need to take into consideration to build a successful storyframe:

Analyze Your Customers

If you are not sure who your target audience is, you should not proceed any further. Storyframing requires knowledge of the potential customer base and user goals. Never start storyframing without knowing your customers first.

Not only do you need to know things about your potential customers, before you begin storyframing, you also need to analyze and categorize them. Some different ways you could assess your customer base is by breaking them down into committed users and potential users.

You could break this down further into returning users and new users. Of your returning users, some have taken a short break from the product, and others have taken a long break, which you could consider lapsed users. You can think about these different groups as current customers and potential customers, known users and unknown users.

One way to further categorize the users is by using ‘personas.’ Each person defines a type of user who can be categorized by defining qualities or characteristics.  You can create personas only when you do thorough research, and you have actual data to support it, not just assumptions. When you start storyframing, try to stick to a limited number of personas or customer categories because too many can be confusing.

Define Moment components

Moments are the most critical items that you require in a storyframing process. Some refer to them as ‘micro-moments.’ A successful moment needs you to have the following four elements:

  1. There needs to be a service(s) in place.
  2. There should be a medium that you use to access the service.
  3. A device is necessary to access the medium.
  4. The user should be able to receive all of these three things.

One thing that you should not forget is the fact that moments occur both offline and online. It means our stories play out both on devices and in human interactions. We move between these two worlds seamlessly sometimes, without even realizing this fact.

Offline moments can make you do things online. For example, you might be conversing with your friend about eating pizza, moments later, you might pick up your smartphone to order something online. Similarly, an online moment can lead to offline moment. For example, ordering a book online and in a few days receiving a physical copy of the book.

Use colors if you want to differentiate online and offline moments. Avoid using colors such as red and green as people infer “stop” and “go” symbols. Instead, you should plan on using neutral colors.

Understanding Different Types of Moments

You can classify moments into four types, and they can come together to form a hook, as described by the educator and entrepreneur Nir Eyal.

Trigger Moments: Trigger moments prompt people toward action, and it can be external like an advertisement or internal like an emotion.

Action Moments: Action moments occur once there has been a trigger moment and it describes the effort that follows a trigger. For example, a user logging into an app.

Reward Moments: Reward moments describe the incentive for user action. For example, after logging into the system, the user gains access to account notifications.

Investment Moments: Investment moments are the times when users act in order to achieve a reward. For example, the user interacts with the account.

Setting Goals for user behavior

When you’re building a storyframe, you are lining up hooks to prompt a user to action with specific user behavior goals in mind. For a successful product, you need to have sustained user involvement, not just a one-time interaction.

If you are able to create a brand that can be part of daily experiences, you have a greater chance of success. The way you craft the storyframe will determine how successful you are at integrating the product into the user’s day-to-day activities. Some examples of highly successful brands and the story they tap into:

” I hate to be alone.” – Facebook

” I want to be fit.”- Fitbit

” I want to get across the town.” – Uber

Craft Your Story

Imagination guided by empathy is the process you need to follow to craft a story. It’s a matter of discovering the best solution for the brand and the user at the same time. You need to understand your product and its capabilities well. If you also understand your potential customers and their needs, you can pair them with your product solutions in powerful narrative arcs that will ensure committed customers who will make your brand part of their lives.

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