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How to Tell Stories Everywhere in Your Design Process

by Ashley Bernard
3 min read
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01. In Design

“Everybody is an expert in something.” Celeste Headlee — How to Have a Better Conversation

In many ways, the user’s story is the most important story to understand and honor. Everyone has a profound, unique story to tell that contains a world of design opportunities. As designers, it’s our job to listen to and retell our users’ stories through our designs. We can make beautiful wireframes, but they’re not truly valuable until they speak to the human needs and human stories that inspired them.

02. In Critiques

I’m sure many of us have received (and also given) design critiques along the lines of “I like that color.” or “Can you make it look more Instagram-y?” Critiquing is an integral part of the design process, and it’s where a lot can go wrong… or a lot can go right. What sets a valuable critique apart from a not-so-valuable critique is the story it tells. In Discussing Design, Connor and Irizarry describe the storyline of a good critique:

  1. Relate that aspect of the design to the design objective.
  2. Describe how and why that aspect does or doesn’t support that objective.

03. In Presentations

“Presentations have the potential to hold an audience’s interest just like a good movie.” Resonate — Nancy Duarte

Presentations are important tools that designers use to change, empower, and inspire their stakeholders in their design process and I’ve certainly left presentations feeling changed, empowered, and inspired. I’ve felt like I had been directly spoken to, taken on a journey and shown all that I could be.

04. Everywhere Else

Stories are human artifacts and they’re not just valuable in entertainment. They’re how we connect and learn from one another and they can be strategically placed everywhere throughout the design process. I’ve highlighted a few activities in the design process where they have the potential to create profound change, but there are countless others. I challenge you to find them. Write them. Rewrite them. Use them as a tool to create better designs and be a more impactful designer.

post authorAshley Bernard

Ashley Bernard,

I’m a UX Designer from the Cayman Islands (currently based in San Francisco). I’m learning how to be a better meaning-maker, storyteller, and powerlifter. Find me at ashleybernard.com


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