The storygraph: a cross channel visualization tool for storytelling research

The storygraph is a deliverable I made to visualize the user needs/touchpoint matrix. Then it became a powerful tool, but let's start from the beginning. Two years ago I was trying to represent how people interact with a whole system, over time and space. Call it by other names: cross-channel experience design, multi-channel service design, extended customer relationship management, touchpoint map, customer experience. We're talking moreless the same language.

Let's think about the customer’s journey. As designers we can't have control over the path our customers walk. They can approach us from any possible touchpoint: our website, some else’s website, phone, friend advice, our headquarter or any other physical location, remote help desk, social media etc. They use whatever they will to get informations or complete a task. From the customer’s point of view, they’re just interacting with our brand. And they don’t care about what channel or system or device they’re using. That’s exactly why we have to.

Storytelling, i.e., the activity of harvesting, crafting and presenting stories, is the leading technique of my research toolbox. As Kevin Brooks and Whitney Quesenbery say, "a story is not just a collection of statements: it's an active mechanism for communicating events, contextual informations and for developing connections between people". Stories have a lot of roles in UX process: they can simply explain a persona/scenario/journey, they can open new perspectives, they create a common space of understanding, they can persuade your decision makers.

I use to collect stories from a variety of sources: direct interviews (users or operators), recorded interviews, emails, customer relationship data, usability test, user feedback, social media. Then I catalogue those stories with a simple tagging & categorizing tool like evernote or a wordpress internal blog. The documentation of a story is made by two parts: write the story down as the user tells it (tale), then rebuild the events in a linear order (plot) trying to identify when an interaction pass through a managed touchpoint. Connecting the dots and using a color code you can transform the storygraph to an experience map, that is a powerful tool you can use in a lot of situations:

- stakeholders meeting
- project team alignment
- brainstorming session
- user journey test






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