We are in a competitive business world, and digital transformation is the foremost strategic priority for businesses. To stand out in our digital world, we need to grab the audience’s attention and take them on a journey of understanding, empathy, and urgency, whether it’s the customer or internal teams.
So, how can business leaders succeed on this journey?
Well, it’s simple; it’s time to focus on the human experience first. By adopting a human-centered approach, the human experience stays the core focus of digital transformation.
Combining a design-led approach, naturally rooted in human-centricity, with a business strategy deeply rooted in data and analytics, you can create a powerful blend of human needs with technology capabilities and business goals.
Many digital transformers fail to consider and design around the human experience properly. They put technology before people. Exploring customer and employee experiences to reveal key insights about their needs, pain points, and how to create better experiences is essential. And then work backwards from there.
This can be achieved by establishing a storytelling culture.
I find stories captivating, and I have loved telling stories since I was a little girl. They help build an emotional connection and boost feelings of trust, compassion, and empathy. But I am not talking about the traditional “once upon a time” stories; as powerful as they are, it’s not what I am leading to here.
The concept of storytelling is used in a wide range of fields and contexts; it is an ancient art form that can be verbal, visual, written, and digital, communicated with an emotional purpose. They can create a catalyst for change.
Not sure how storytelling relates to digital transformation?
Well, storytelling is an effective tool for creating a long-lasting impression. It activates multiple senses in the brain at once and becomes etched into our brains for longer, giving messages longevity. That is why a storytelling approach should be at the forefront of any digital transformation strategy because it is usually a long-term initiative.
In a data-driven world, let’s not present ideas packed with numbers, graphs, and sterile words. Instead, present your ideas by telling a story, paint a mental picture of the messages you want to convey, and use simplified figures and graphs to support the story. At the end of the day, you want to align your organisation, inspire the audience for the future, and lock in commitment.
User Experience (UX) Storytelling
Storytelling allows businesses to develop a core understanding across the entire organisation, regardless of their department or position, and start focusing on the problems that need to be solved.
Research plays a big part in that. So, to get the impactful stories flowing, we need to ask the right questions first.
In user experience (UX) design, stories are utilised through the design process to create a successful UX strategy, from defining the problem to sharing stories with stakeholders. Helping businesses design narratives for online platforms while ensuring the users have a positive experience throughout their journey.
The stories you tell are stronger when you bring in real-life examples and direct quotes of your user’s current frustrations and first-hand discoveries.
Despite it not being an exact science, some storytelling elements can help form a memorable narrative experience in UX research:
- There is always a main character or hero
- A plot where the hero often has a goal
- A dialogue between the characters
- A conflict stops the hero from reaching their goal
- And a resolution which helps them reach their goal
The Hero – Personas
In a story, the opening scenes introduce the main character (hero), their setting and background. It is essential for a reader to feel connected to that character.
In business, the hero isn’t the brand or service; the customers are the hero.
It is equally essential that an organisation feels connected to its customers. UX researchers aim to bridge this gap by understanding and creating user personas humanised with storytelling. This approach aids in developing a strategy that aligns with the user’s needs.
Plot – User Research
The plot in the UX story is the discovery stage along the user journey, it is essentially the flow of the user journey. Through user testing and research, we can discover what the users are trying to achieve/overcome on their journey and the context.
Dialogue – Tone of Voice
To ensure relevancy and keep users engaged, language must be made clear. The dialogue focuses on what and how the information is transmitted to the user. This helps decide the tone of voice of the message and solution.
Conflict – Insight and Findings
Insights and findings are at the core of any UX report; this is where unbiased narratives are created based on research findings. Every story involves some sort of conflict.
Consider users as the hero needing to achieve a goal, and a UX designer as the one responsible for helping them achieve their goal by providing what they need. If the user decided not to complete their journey, something was likely stopping them in their tracks; this is when we need to clearly define the problems that need to be solved.
Resolution – Recommendations
By the end of the story, we should know who the users are, their goals, preferred language, and pain points. But a good story runs on specifics, and people need to know what to do next. Research reports should end with recommendations for the future. At leading digital agency ORCKID, we set the foundation of every project with data, insight, and recommendations to act.
So now there is a UX narrative based on a solid understanding of the hero’s (the user’s) needs and journey. The same elements should be applied to your business narrative to help make your audience feel like a hero in their story with your brand.
Your customers are human beings who crave an emotional connection, like any of us.
Storytelling is a human-centered approach to sharing your vision. We are wired to find patterns; it forms the basis of our curiosity.
Stories can be intertwined into a digital product with visual storytelling through videos, interactivity, use of space, customisation, visual hierarchy, language, and more. Stories that are memorable and can form strong, positive, emotional responses should be at the forefront of a human-centered approach.
Your audience will become immersed in the compelling narrative, making the whole journey feel more like an authentic experience. As a result, they will feel “closer” to the brand and the business.
How to contact the author:
Hannah Harris is a UX/UI Designer at leading digital agency, ORCKID, you can contact her through their website or on LinkedIn.
Note on the topic:
Keen for more strategic insights? Take a peek at: 5 Reasons You Need A Digital Strategy Now or check out our guide: Practical Ways to Compete Online in Times of Crisis.