Storyboarding. It's a technique in the film industry where the filmmakers use still images to conceptualize and plan out a movie before filming. A storyboard ends up looking a bit like a comic book version of a movie, and it allows the filmmakers to practice telling the story before they ever attempt to tell the story in its film format. (For more info about storyboarding, you may consult the great Wiki here.)
As a person who loves stories and movies, I like to carry over the idea of storyboarding to other areas. In fact, I see myself as an online storyteller since I work with people to creatively share their stories and knowledge in the digital world through websites, videos, images, online courses, etc. So here are my steps to pre-conceptualize projects à la storyboarding.
Step 1: Get clear on what story you want to tell.
Take the time to really think through WHAT you are putting online and WHY you are doing it. Figure out the vibe of HOW you want to present yourself through the elements that apply to your project like text, images, video, audio, etc. Ask yourself, "What words describe my desired story impression?" And make sure you understand WHO you want to encounter your story and WHERE and WHEN you want them to find it.
Step 2: Think about the "scenes" in your story.
OK. Your project may not have actual scenes, but every project has component parts. So what are the main component parts of your project? If it's a website, then your scenes are the pages. If it's an online course, then your scenes are the main topics that you're going to cover. As you come up with these scenes, make sure that each one relates a part of the main story you are trying to tell. If it doesn't fit with the main story, change the scene to be on topic or leave it on the cutting room floor.
Step 3: Fill the scenes.
Now it's time to consider what the characters and set are for each "scene" in your project. For example, a website page will need items like text, images, buttons/links, specialized elements for the page's specific function, etc. A video will need video, audio, images, text, transitions, etc. As you look at each individual scene, think about what details and elements need to be there to have this scene tell its part of the main story. And just like a real storyboard, you should make a visual representation of the scene by writing things down, typing them up, drawing a picture...whatever will help you capture and remember the elements of this scene.
Step 4: Figure out how to make the details happen.
There may be actors to hire and set pieces to acquire! If there are scene elements that you now know you need but don't yet have, it's time to start finding them. Maybe you'll need a plug-in for your website to handle a special function. Maybe you need to purchase music to go with the video you already have. Maybe you need images for your online course. Whatever these missing elements are, go get 'em.
Step 5: Tell your online story.
You've planned. You've prepared. And now you are ready to successfully tell your online story. Lights...camera...action!