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Storytelling and the user’s journey – Day 14

by , Content Strategist, GatherContent

This video is the fourteenth in our Content Strategy Advent Calendar series. Today, Donna Lichaw, author of The User’s Journey, talks to us about how we can use storytelling to create an engaging and memorable experience for your users.

Video transcript

Hi, I’m Donna Lichaw, author of The User’s Journey. A lot of people these days are talking about storytelling. It’s very much in vogue. The thing is, what I have found in my many years building digital products and services, helping companies figure out what products should do as well as what kind of content should meet users’ needs, what I found is that most people don’t care about your product story or your company story, your brand story, your founder’s story, what they care about is their own story.

The good thing is that as people who create content for digital products and services, websites, apps, anything really, that story is something that you can have a hand in crafting and a hand in making sure it’s a successful story and something that gets people really excited about the things that they use and the things that you build and recommending it to others and more likely to use these things and want to use them over and over again.

Now the trick is not storytelling and, you know, like something you’d see in the movies, telling of a story or writing great content, or having the right imagery. It’s about creating content that acts as props would in a movie. In other words, all the things that you put into the screen should further the story for your users or customer so that they experience something that is like a good story. So this might be plot point on a homepage, plot point on another screen, plot point on another thing in email that happens a week later. These journeys and stories could be really long, they could be very short and just take a few seconds.

Now something you might be wondering is, well, what about storytelling? A lot of us are writers, we write content, shouldn’t we still be telling stories? Isn’t that something that clients often want, that stakeholders want and that we want to be doing?

If you want to be telling stories, that’s ok as long as it acts like a plot point that’s going to further your character story. So let’s say you’re telling the story of two founders of a company, a tech company, and they’d started in a garage and this is why it’s really important that people know how this company got started. Ok,well if the company’s brand is about innovation, and if the users in their own story are going to be heroes where they are innovative in their lives and buy things that make them feel forward-thinking and progressive, then sure, that story, the telling of that story, it’s ok. So you can have it on somewhere like an about page, on a homepage, anywhere that really matters.

Again, the trick however is not telling stories, it is insignificant in a sense. It is creating and putting all the pieces together, so that users experience something that is like a story. Whether it lasts a few seconds or, weeks, days, ideally even many years, people want to experience a story, that story has plot points, it has structure, architecture that is engineered for engagement. It’s how people get excited about something, it’s how people stick through something and get through anything, whether it be a tiny flow or huge journey. And it’s how people remember what they experienced, see value in what they experienced and recommend it to others.

So again, next time you’re working on anything, don’t ask what kind of story can I tell, ask what is the story for my user, who are they, what do they need to do and how can I turn them into a hero. Thanks.

About Donna

 photo by Angela Jimenez Photography

Donna Lichaw is the author of The User’s Journey: Storymapping Products That People Love. Through her writing, speaking, and much loved Storymapping Workshop, Donna guides startups, non-profits, and global brands in optimizing their digital products and services by providing them with a simplified way to drive user engagement. Utilizing her ‘story first’ approach, she helps organizations define and refine their value proposition, transform their thinking, and better engage with their core customers.

Recognized as a thought leader in storytelling and customer engagement strategies, she has presented as a keynote speaker at design and technology conferences in the US, Canada and Europe. She has also taught courses at New York University, Northwestern University, The School of Visual Arts, and Parsons the New School for Design. Prior to her career in technology, she refined her talent for storytelling and narrative development as an award-winning documentary filmmaker. You can find her on the web at www.donnalichaw.com and on twitter

Content strategy advent calendar: Day 14 – Storytelling and the user’s journey, by @donnalichaw.

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About the Author

Content Strategist, GatherContent

Rob is Content Strategist at GatherContent. He is a journalism graduate and has previously worked as Studio Manager and Head of Content for a design agency and as an Audience Research Executive for the BBC. He’s a published author and regular contributor to industry publications including Net Magazine, Smashing Magazine, 24 Ways, WebTuts+, UX Matters , UX Booth and Content Marketing Institute. On occasion Rob speaks about content strategy at leading industry events.

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