The reason why I try to avoid storyboards

Sometimes you know that you like or dislike something, but you are not sure exactly why. Sometimes you find yourself in a unpleasant situation, but it is hard for you to pinpoint why you find it unpleasant.

Well, I just had an epiphany, and I think I finally understand why I don’t feel comfortable working with storyboards, for anything bigger than a two screens app.

Storyboards do not let me slice the problem.

Consciously, or most likely unconsciously, I tend to slice problems, and rearrange those slices in a way that suits me, or suits the context I am working on.

Each of those slices can then be sliced down even further, so those new slices can be rearranged again.

That helps me, first, make the problem solvable. Which, immediately, increases my productivity: when I am facing a problem that happens to be too big, or just seems to be too big, I tend to procrastinate a lot.

But by slicing problems as much as possible, trying to comply with the single responsibility principle, abstractions start popping up, screaming at me.

Because even though I would love to say that I can design a solution to a problem upfront, truth is I have embraced the fact, long time ago, that I am better at noticing when the problem I am trying to solve is suggesting me a solution, than at trying to make the problem fit my pre-conceived solution to it.

Also, I find easier to make small slices work faster. It might be the time spent doing TDD, it might be that it’s just the way my brain works, but the shorter the feedback cycles, the faster I can move forward. It is like I physically feel impediments removing themselves, getting out of my way. Taking a storyboard of a certain complexity to a stage where I can make it work takes so long!

So I guess we are back to a recurrent theme of this blog: the single responsibility principle.

A storyboard can be a time saver, a great solution to build a kick prototype or a product with a well defined, clean and simple navigation flow.

But, in my opinion, more often than not, it is just a big chunk of muddy of responsibilities than I’m better off breaking down.

3 Replies to “The reason why I try to avoid storyboards”

  1. Storyboards were and are part of Apple’s desire to have developers act and operate independently of designers. Much of iOS 7 onwards is also about this. The hope (and fear) that drives this direction is the number of apps in the App Store.

    If developers can be encouraged to feel like designers, and feel able to do design and UX design, they will. They so loathe working with designers that they’d much rather think of themselves as able to do it, even in a minimalist sense. And Apple’s flattered this, and spent much of the last 5 years of WWDC videos encouraging developers to feel they can complete an app, on their own.

    This has lead to an enormous flood of “me too” address books, todo lists, photo editors, calendars, etc etc. Every single app category is literally flooded with copycats of both functionality and appearance because developers feel no shame in doing such a thing.

    This provides Apple with the all important massive numbers of apps they hope will keep them at the head of the development investment conversation, and in the minds of consumers. They so greatly feared Android doing a repeat of Microsoft’s dominance of the desktop conversation through app dominance that they sacrificed quality for quantity. They courted developers in a way that made them feel they didn’t need designers.

    Despite all the talk of Storyboards being for designers, it’s not. No self respecting designer looks at Storyboards and thinks it’s any good. It’s only there to help developers pump out a paged app with tab bar functionality and navigation. And they do.

    Anything more complex does require a designer’s thinking and a developer’s ingenuity.

    btw, I think your last sentence : “But, in my opinion, more often than not, it is just a big chunk of muddy of responsibilities than I’m better off breaking down.”

    Should be…

    “But, in my opinion, it’s frequently just a big chunk of muddied responsibilities better off broken down manually.”

    Feel free to delete this comment and reply to me on email, please!

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