Narrative Product Development

Cygnis Media Editor
Learn about Narrative Product Development

Every great product begins with a great story. Narratives in product development are essential sketching about where you want your product to go in the future. For every web and mobile product out there, a master narrative is integral for the reason of its existence.

In narratives, the initial step is to define the problems faced by users. If you simply walk in to a conference room, and without much proof and connection announce research showing what the user needs and what you have observed in relation, it will barely work with your managers and engineering team, and you will spend lots of time translating the whole idea to them. Unfortunately, you can’t do that well enough if you don’t really understand where the needs are coming from and hence, many organizations focus on various techniques such as sharing ideas across cross-functional teams, group discussions, brainstorming as well as public surveys. Often times during such in-house sessions, you will hear someone from another department sharing their views, providing you with opportunities to learn what motivates them and to think about how you can translate your goals into what is motivating them.

Why do Narratives work really well?

Narrative Product Development

It simulates the user experience. A narrative design helps the team to make design decisions based on how users would experience the product, as they take the seat right beside and go through every single step the user would go through. Eventually, these result in design problems being identified earlier, saving time and increasing efficiency. Once the product is available to the customers, the end user can tap into an ecosystem of engagement and feedback, joining the story of the product and extending it along.

Narratives in product development also help facilitate collaboration across all groups. With products, for example, there is a development team and a marketing team involved, which are often, in many companies, disconnected from each other. The marketing tells one story while the product tells another, leaving the customer confused with conflicting messages. Hence, the emotional bond the narrative creates must clearly be communicated and adopted across all groups early on.

Consequences of not adopting the narrative approach

Never judge a book by its title

If you ever read a book and happen to go watch its movie later, almost always are you disappointed. It’s mainly because, in the course of reading the book, you visualize everything in your head, the characters, the actions, the locations. That visualization is unique. But when you go to the movies, it’s never like how you imagined it to be, it’s never the same.


  • Scope Creep
  • Running behind schedule
  • Over spending


  • Chasing tasks
  • Demotivation
  • Growing frustration


  • Confusing Design
  • Slow adoption
Wrap up

If you are introducing a new product, you are providing people something they want to use for a problem they are facing, and hence there has to be a vision of how the future can be different with your product in their hands. We are not talking about a smart narrative; we are talking about a story that makes you act. A story that is not acted upon is worthless.

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