In agile design, stories are the basis for identifying new features for software and applications. A story typical covers a basic unit of required functionality. In user experience design stories incorporate real people in real places doing real things (http://uxmag.com/articles/storyboarding-in-the-software-design-process).
Whitney Quesenbery and Kevin Brooks , in their book, Storytelling for User Experience, list the following benefits of stories:
• They help us gather and share information about users, tasks, and goals.
• They put a human face on analytic data.
• They can spark new design concepts and encourage collaboration and innovation.
• They are a way to share ideas and create a sense of shared history and purpose.
• They help us understand the world by giving us insight into people who are not just like us.
• They can even persuade others of the value of our contribution.
If we have a story, we could simply write it down as in a screenplay, but stories often come to life when they are accompanied by sketches, and in user interface design we can intermix user interface sketches and wireframes in with storyboard panels that emphasize the person and the context of usage (e.g., the person is using a mobile device in a railway station). Storyboards allow us to portray user interactions within a real world context.
Sketching storyboards is great but it is not so easy to edit and re-order sketched story boards. This is where cartoon and storyboarding software comes in. You can digitize your sketches as electronic images/photos and then import them into storyboarding software where you can create interesting storyboard layouts, reorder images, add sketches, and add text. you can also intermix hand-drawn sketches with software wireframes.
You can see an example of using storyboard software in the following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByAuQ3AC84A&feature=player_embedded
Two tools for creating software storyboards are Indigo Studio and Comic Life.
Comic Life (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comic_Life) “is a comic desktop publishing computer program developed by plasq, originally for Mac OS X. plasq has since released versions of Comic Life for Windows and iOS. Comic Life was previously bundled with Intel Macs.
The app is designed to create comic pages using digital photos.”
The page below came from an early mini-review of Comic Life. (http://www.tuaw.com/2005/04/15/comic-live/)
I’m not artist, so I find storyboarding software to be extremely useful in creating a bridge between static wireframes and interactive experience.
It’s true that software prototyping tools now you to move from wire frame to interactive prototype very easily, but there is still a place for storyboard because it allows you to show the context of use of the application interface that you are designing.
Bottom line, storyboard is a great technique for UI designers, and there is good storyboarding software out there which can add a lot of value to wire frames and sketches as an adjunct to the process of building interactive prototypes.