Which Storyboard Format is Better: Docs or Slides?

Word vs. PowerPoint Storyboards

In the ID community, there will always be some debate over which program is best suited for storyboarding.

One camp insists that text-forward Word or Google Doc storyboards reign supreme, while the other opts to tell a slide-based story using tools like PowerPoint or Google Slides.

So the question remains:

Is one type of storyboard actually better than the other?

Let’s explore.

Word Docs for the Win

Text-based storyboards are often favored by IDs whose primary focus is content development.

That’s because a storyboard written in Microsoft Word or Google Docs is easy to write and easy to read—and it’s easy to hit “share” and collect comments from reviewers.

Features like headings and styles make organizing easy by establishing clear-cut hierarchy within the document (and allowing for easy navigation with the left-hand menu).

And with the vertical scrolling feature of a text-forward storyboard, and the _FINAL storyboard version is just a Ctrl+V away from dropping into a tool like Articulate Rise or EasyGenerator for rapid development.


But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies.

While the familiarity of Word and Google Docs makes these storyboards easy to write and review, they do tend to fall short when it comes to painting a picture of the potential end-product.

Stakeholders and developers may struggle to visualize the final course based off copy alone, even when the design/development direction is written alongside the story.

It’s important to keep in mind who will need to review the storyboard, and consider adding additional visual direction (or even screenshots) to aid in the storytelling.

PowerPoint is Nearly Perfect

Slide-based storyboards offer something special: visualization.

The 16:9 slide canvas makes it easy to see how much text should actually go on screen, making it easy to chunk out content into digestible bites.

Not only can designers easily lay out text using a program like Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint for their storyboards, but they can also bring in visuals and begin to comp out a course to communicate big-picture ideas to stakeholders and developers.

Because a good number of companies are still using Storyline to develop online courses, using a PowerPoint storyboard can help plot out where to place items on the screen: how much text should be used? How large should graphics be?


Google Slides Storyboard Slowdowns

But even a design-forward storyboard created in PowerPoint or Google Slides is not without hiccups.

Slide-based storyboards tend to present challenges in the review and editing stage. Some stakeholders may be unfamiliar with how to leave comments, as it’s not always intuitive to know where to click or highlight to leave a note.

Plus, any changes made to the course copy itself can be tricky to track. If you grant “editing” permissions to a group of reviewers on a Slide, they may go in and move elements and text around (or possibly delete it!) without an easy way to retrieve it.

Finally, overly-designed storyboards may leave developers feeling creatively restricted.

So, which type of storyboard is best?

It truly depends.

Some companies require their instuctional designers and LXDs to to use specific storyboard templates, which can take some guesswork out of the equation.

However, if you have creative autonomy to suss out your own storyboarding style, the best way to find out what suits you best is to play around, practice, and determine what makes the most sense for your eLearning course development workflow.

My advice, FWIW!

Consider your stakeholders. These folks (and any other reviewers) truly are your audience for the storyboard, so considering how they’ll interact with the document is key.

What’s the best way to collaborate with them to have them review your storyboard, provide insightful comments, and ultimately sign off on your vision before moving forward into development?

Also, consider your collaborators. What other members of your creative team are you working with? What are their skillsets? Wht are their roles in the overall development process?

What’s their personal preference for how they’d like to receive and co-create content? Do more junior-level instructional designers little extra help in the content development stage–meaning you’ll need to significantly edit their copy?

If so, perhaps a text-forward storyboard makes more sense.

Are you working with strong writers and a full-fledged multimedia team, complete with highly skilled UI or visual designers who may struggle to translate your vision if just handed a large document with text?

Perhaps a Google Slides storyboard with a few wireframes or visual notes makes the most sense.

Inspired to storyboard?

Grab your free Google Slides storyboard template today!

Just answer a couple quick questions, and you’ll be redirected to a super awesome storyboard template that I’ve custom-crafted to start designing your own eLearning courses. Enjoy!

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