Workshop by: Dave Malouf, @daveixd

If your story doesn’t engage, then you are probably failing at design.


  •  people = personas
  • location = context
  • props = interfaces
  • activities = tasks
  • dialog = flow/sequence
  • experience – how we FEEL how to get things done
  • engage emotional connection with voice/tone
  • Tales with: purpose, meaning, value
  • design to create change

Why Stories?

  • Experiencing
  • What it is like to be there
  • bring story to 3D space –> experience surrounds us
  • Stories frame; they’re intentional –> conveying the future with intention
  • Suggested reading: “Understanding Comics” – deconstruction of comics/stories
  • Suggested notebook: Muji Manga Notebook
  • Games, stories, jokes: culturally embedded

Stories create Landmarks

  • What it is
  • why they’re doing something
  • “Where were you when…?” 
  • If they don’t engage emotionally, they probably won’t engage
  • Design things for the kind of emotion in a specific context when the product/interface is being used

Escape > Reflect

  • Create a story that will allow me to understand myself

How do you create a story from scratch?

  1. Experience
  2. Hard Work
  3. Find your Voice
  4. Research

Actual experience is better: engage in the research!


  • cluster of users -> similar behavioral patterns
  • behaviors, attitudes, motivations are similar regardless of age, etc.
  • Observe as much as you can
  • Primary: direct target
  • Secondary: will impact the primary persona
  • Tertiary: not going to use it but are impacted by the system
  • example of facets: lifestyle, relationships, entertainment, technology uses, goals, motivations
  • be specific – humanize them
  1. Get writing – words for your process
  2. Get moving – improv: influence from the audience
    suggested reading: Game Storming
  3. Build it
    interactions, especially in mobile, are embodied (physicality + digital experience)
    for example: figuring out the right gestures (i.e. inserting a card or swiping – systems might not translate exactly the same way around the world)

Suggested reading: “See What I Mean” by Kevin Ching

Know Other Disciplines

  • Realism
  • Resonance – I can believe in your story and I can connect it with my life
  • interest – the way you tell your story
  • drama – key in on their motivations
  • tell it in a way that engages them
  • design serves that create feedback (empowering people)

Everything has a story

  • stories help us become preventive instead of responsive


From Story to Design


Externalize and reflect culture

  • find commonalities
  • navigate
  • cross-cultures

Stories frame Principles (how you describe your product/service)

  • not guidelines or patterns
  • qualities to make you different

Introduction to Parti Sandwich

Parti – central idea or concepts of a building

  1. Tech Opportunity
  2. Human Factor
  3. Marketing Trend
  4. Target group’s activities
  5. Scenario

Some guide questions: 

  • Did your persona stand up? or does the story map against the persona?
  • Are the activities complete enough?
  • Does the end of your story have a realistic happy ending?

Your Character

  • Backstory
  • Motivation
  • End Goal
  • Personality
  • Interests
  • Relationships


  • enough explanation
  • problem framed to engage
  • problem well described
  • resolved realistically
  • clear vision of the future


  • artifacts
  • space
  • roles
  • expectations
  • culture


From Words to User Interface


Encode your UI

  • chunk into scenes
  • add nouns and  verbs into place: objects, methods, parameters
  • adjust screens based on appropriate density



creating a vision together

  • Collaborate – include people in the research
  • Come up with personas from data


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