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  • Hayley Sayre

Working Backwards to go Forward: Reverse Engineering Storyboards


"Everyone you meet will know something you don't," - Bill Nye

There are so many ways to get from point A to point B when you're learning something new, and while blazing ahead independently has its place, there is tremendous value in learning from others. I have the utmost respect for the experts in my field and taking the time to learn about their processes can only make me a stronger designer. Reverse engineering is a wonderful tool you can use to figure out what went into creating finished instructional design projects.

Like taking apart a watch, it allows you to see all the parts inside that work to make the finished machine function. Today I'm going to continue reverse engineering the branching scenario on managing conflicts in the workplace (you are welcome to check it out here!) and work backward to create a storyboard.


This was a fantastic exercise! It was very useful in seeing all the different components the designer must have had to consider when putting this together. Although this is a fairly simple course, there are many components to each slide to note, including on-screen text, audio narration, buttons and interactivity, the menu interface, and visuals. This course had some great strengths, including a realistic trigger, crisp and non-distracting visuals and color scheme, and a few clever interactive components such as a clickable email. These kept me focused and engaged.


One of the navigation patterns I noticed was that the learner has some freedom in using the forwards and back arrows to navigate the course, in addition to the other buttons. These multiple options took away a bit from the intuitive aspect of navigation. A good rule of thumb is to make the navigation very clear so that the learner doesn't wonder how they should proceed through the course [1]. If I were redesigning this course I would remove the forward and back arrows from all the slides and only allow the appropriate buttons for each slide. For example, when the learner reaches a neutral or negative ending, they are supposed to click the button to "Try Again!". However, they can bypass this by clicking forward or back and can therefore end up in a non-ideal slide. To fix this I would only provide the "Try Again!" button to eliminate confusion or rogue navigation on the learners' part.


Take a look at my reverse-engineered storyboard and sample interface slides for this course. (You can also click here for a larger view of the storyboard and the interface!)


References:

Hill, D. (2019, March 4). How to improve your elearning UI with better visual communication. Elucidat. Retrieved February 27, 2022, from https://www.elucidat.com/blog/elearning-ui-design/

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