Alisa Taylor

February 28, 2021
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February 28, 2021
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storytelling in design
Shared Storytelling by Hurca!

Storytelling is a buzzword that you’ll find all too often in the graphic design, web design, and marketing spheres. It’s a crucial element of design projects for several reasons, including its ability to describe aptly the cultural and social institution of sharing stories.

The whole point of storytelling is to foster an emotional connection between a story and the person listening to it. In the case of design storytelling, your goal should be to create that emotional bond between your design and its audience. 

The emotional connection you’re able to attach will serve as the spark that will keep viewers engaged with your design over others that don’t quite provide the same bond.

Ultimately, storytelling design shares information through visual elements in a way that encourages engagement and deeper understanding in your audience. 

Here are the top design storytelling trends for 2021, and why you should incorporate them into your design projects.

Interactive Design Experiences

If you need an example of interactive design storytelling, look no further than the music streaming service Spotify. Spotify has mastered the art of engaging its users through the This is Spotify project. 

The project begins with basic text to intrigue users. Thereafter, custom-picked music and visual designs tell you the stories of the artists you’re exploring.

The visuals that Spotify uses combine varying genres and musical artists to give you a clear idea of the variety the service offers. The message here is clear: there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes and moods on the platform.

example for storytelling design
Perfect example for interactive storytelling design: The Spotify This is ... Playlists

Gamify Your Designs

Gamification is a huge trend in the digital sector right now, and you can apply it to your design work in unique ways to make the most of its pull. Gamifying your story is a fantastic way to share it with the right audience, although it can be challenging to come up with a fitting game through which to relay the tale.

Applying the concept of gamification requires caution, as it might not be appropriate for every brand or story. However, if it’s fitting, you can engage and fascinate your audience while concisely putting across your message by creating a fun, game-like environment.

Provide Identities and Reasons

Did you know that character development is just as important in design as it is in storytelling? 

Your audience needs to know who the characters in your story are, and why they should care about their plights. Thus, your design should answer questions like:

• Who is this character?

•. What makes them special, memorable, or unique?

•. Why should people care about them and form an emotional bond with them?

Answering these questions will assist you in defining and developing your story and the characters within it. The challenge then is to incorporate these elements into your design in a cohesive and engaging way.

storytelling in design
Community by Darya Semenova

Ensure Your Audience Buys In

The goal of storytelling design is to encourage the audience to become an active part of your story. This is particularly true if you want them to follow a call to action after you’ve engaged them.

The key to achieving this is to tell a visual story that will get your audience to buy into it. You need to create a design that viewers can connect with, become part of, believe, and gain value from. 

Try to put your users in your story by creating a narrative that drives engagement and action.

Tell Stories Through Text

This might seem like an obvious move, but in 2021, text-based storytelling is making a big comeback. As a designer, you can use bold and captivating typography to get your visual story noticed. 

Your goal should be to carefully craft a short but intriguing tale containing a beginning, a body, and a conclusion. This narrative should keep your audience eager to read more from start to finish.

design storytelling through text
Man by Mariya Kiryuhina

Incorporate Sound Elements

Our ancestors were the first storytellers. They always told their tales to large gatherings of people using captivating sound effects to get their points across. 

Nowadays, we can emulate these ancient techniques by reinforcing our design stories with matching audio effects and experiences.

Develop a Memorable Visual Theme

Clear, unwavering visual connections between the elements of your storytelling design will create cohesion and harmony in your story. 

Having a visual theme in place makes your design appear more consistent. Plus, it binds elements together in a way that ensures your audience knows they’re part of the same theme.

An excellent example of this is Google Jigsaw, which boasts a dark background, dense blocks of text, and simple line shapes. The site’s appealing animations and space in all the right places keep users eagerly scrolling to keep up with the story as it reveals itself.

design storytelling theme
Girl Power by @nick_vectorart, made with Vectornator.

Work on Fostering Emotion

Your storytelling design needs to use text, color, images, and illustrations to pull at your audience’s heartstrings and create a lasting emotional connection. Many charitable organizations are adept at this aspect of web design. 

Animal rescue charities, for example, feature pictures of their rescued animals on their websites. These images make it that the animals are alone and in need of loving homes. Who could resist?

Focus on the Audience

Your storytelling design work must create an exceptional visual experience for your users. You might be the one telling the story, but if you want your audience to connect genuinely, you need to write and design it with them in mind. They should forget they’re staring at a desktop computer screen and feel wholly immersed in what you’re telling them.

You can help your users establish a connection with your story by making them part of the narrative. Many designers like to feature images of real, authentic-looking people and keywords like “just for you” to show users that a website caters to their needs.

design storytelling audience
by Serj Marco

Express Genuineness

So much of what we see on the internet feels inauthentic, heavily edited, or simply not quite real. You can use design storytelling to inject a breath of fresh genuineness into a brand, website, or online profile. 

After all, 83% of Millennials say that they prefer that the companies they purchase from align with their beliefs and values.

There’s nothing wrong with writing authentic copy from your own view, incorporating emotional (or even untouched) photos into your designs, and expressing why you and your designs are important and worthy. Most web users today are always eager to see some authentic self-expression.

Making A Story Come To Life

Storytelling design is a powerful vehicle for conveying narratives and emotions in a visually focused way. 

You can tell engaging stories with design in many ways, ranging from developing outstanding narratives and characters, to incorporating games and sound into your work. 

Your ultimate goal should be to connect your story with your visuals and brand in a way your audience will really resonate with.

Cover Photo by Arvind Lakhani.

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