Spontaneity In Design & Telling Stories


Being spontaneous allows someone to be flexible and dynamic.

I recently listened to a TEDx Talk about the importance of procrastination and how it fuels creativity. The podcast got me interested in the difference between being a planner and being spontaneous.

I'm a planner. From the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed, I plan how my day is going to be: listing down all my tasks, preparing all my things. These give me less decision fatigue, especially in dealing with the smaller chores.

I find peace in planning my day and knowing where my next step is going to be, otherwise, I get frazzled and stressed. That's why I tend to avoid spontaneity like the plague even though I do welcome them in rare moment. However, listening to this podcast reminded me of the importance of slowing down and simply letting everything fall into place and allowing spontaneity to happen.

When everything is planned, we unconsciously inhibit the natural course of actions. It's rigid in its form. Creativity and ideas flow more naturally because it's more open to change. Spontaneity allows for those two things to happen that was mentioned in the podcast: Freedom of Improvisation and Accessibility To New Possible Ideas. I find this interesting because it speaks true to the Field of Design. These two things are part of the drivers of good ideation and the ability to openly collaborate and create design solutions. 


How does this spontaneity relate to design and storytelling?


One of the most powerful and essential tools in design is the ability to tell stories. As designers, we craft stories for our users to arrive at solutions to problems. Looking further into it, the whole process of design is a story. There's a character, which is the equivalent of the audience or a persona (someone you are designing for), a crisis (the problem you are seeking a solution for), and a resolution or a result. In between, are the ideation, the user research, the interviews, the analysis and synthesis, and the prototyping which builds upon the context of the overall story.

In stories, there are gaps and this is where the freedom of improvisation comes in. The ability to fill in those gaps and allow for creativity to flow means more idea generation. The more ideas you have, the more possible solutions you can come up with. This accessibility to new possible ideas gives you more freedom to work towards a more human-centered design solution because you are more open to the idea of things.

Embracing spontaneity means embracing the diversity of ideas. 

Diverging from spontaneity and leaning more towards story let me share a few insights I recently gathered from my Story Class. Last week, we were asked to read and sketch note The User's Journey by Donna Lichaw. We mind mapped three different types of design stories and learned the impact it creates towards the goals you are trying to achieve in the three phases of design: Conceptual, Actualization, and Usage. Each phase has its own Story Map or Story Arc and serves different scenarios and purpose in the design process. 


Convey your product idea with a Concept Story.

Talk about the product and how to build it.

Concepts are illustrations of an idea and the same definition applies to this story. At this stage, your design is still in its concept form but addresses how your users will think about your design or product.  This is the phase where you empathize with your users and imagine how you want them to feel about the product or service. This story provides answers to questions such as: What is the goal? What is the problem? What is the product? Who is this product for? What does this product need to do? What are the competition?

“It is the foundational story and structure that you will use to identify and communicate your core concept and value proposition both internally and externally.” — Donna Lichaw


Stories are about people, not things.



Convey your actual product with an Origin Story.

Talk about how to users would use the product for the first time.

Origin Story is the bridge that closes the gap between the story of Concept (of a product) and Usage (of a product). It answers the question: How will your product be used for the first time? What can they do with it? What problems will it solve?

To that end, your story should communicate the value proposition, get customers to experience it and take action with it.

“An origin story acts as a bridge between your concept story and your usage story — bridging the gap between the concept of a product or service and the actual usage of it. It’s where and when potential customers not only see what they can do with a product, but also how they can take an action with it.” — Donna Lichaw


The character must feel compelled to act, effecting in some change."



Convey the usability of a product with a Usage Story.

The final stage of the design story is the story of someone using the product or service—step by step. It answers deeper value-centric questions for experience: the why's and the how's as opposed to merely what it is: How would customers use the product? How will they experience the value in using it? How would they continue to use it over time? Most important of all… Why would they use it and continue using it?

Ultimately, this story is where you convey how you will capture the interest of users and their engagement.

“It’s the actual steps that make up the story for your user.” — Donna Lichaw


Design is rooted in empathy and empathy is rooted from connection.

Human beings find connection through stories.


In order to gain empathy and understanding, you have to tell it through a story. Here's a question that I'd like to leave with you for now: How will you craft your own in order to share your ideas to the world? 

LearnJamie CattComment