Narrative Design and the Power of “Storyselling”

5 Min Read Narrative design is a strategy that uses storytelling to create customer connections and paint your customer as the hero. By leveraging the power of story, you can help your brand stand out and make a lasting impression on your audience.

Written by UserInput Team
Last Updated: June 2023

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Stories have been part of human culture for centuries, if not since the dawn of time. Oral traditions, the written word, from fables to fairy tales, we are drawn to narrative designs with a beginning, middle, and end. But why?

What makes stories so darn compelling?

Ask an author, and they would tell you it’s because stories have the power to transport you into a different world and allow you to experience that world from another’s perspective, and create emotional connections.

Ask a marketer, and they would tell you that’s exactly why stories are such a powerful tool in selling. Stories allow you to create an emotional connection between your brand and your audience, which makes it infinitely easier for your brand to convert leads into customers.

Moral of this little tale? People love a good story.

Where Most Brands Get It Wrong

Many brands tend to focus on a problem/solution messaging framework, not telling a story. While this approach can be effective at addressing specific pain points, it doesn’t do much for originality. They end up afloat in a “sea of sameness”, echoing their competition.

However, your audience doesn’t just buy your product or service for the solution it provides, but for the transformation that comes with it. Stories share the transformation.

Take your average meal delivery service as an example. Many meal delivery services advertise themselves by highlighting the convenience and healthy options they provide. Sure, there’s no doubt those are important selling points, but what about the stories of the transformations that come along with those services?

For instance, instead of just pointing out how convenient the service is, you could focus on the story of a busy mom who, with the help of those meal deliveries, reclaimed her evenings to spend more time with her family. By highlighting her transformational story, you can create a deeper connection with your audience that goes beyond the specific pain point of meal planning.

Another example might be a software product that helps businesses manage finances. Instead of just focusing on the features and benefits of the product, you could tell the story of a small business owner who, after struggling for years to manage their finances, finally took their business to the next level because of the help of the software.

By highlighting the transformational story of the small business owner’s success, you create a deeper emotional bond with your audience and differentiate yourself. Features and benefits are great, but it’s stories that do the real heavy lifting. And by positioning your customer as the hero of the story, you create a narrative that resonates with their values, beliefs, and desires.

So What is Narrative Design?

Narrative design is a strategy that uses storytelling to create customer connections and paint your customer as the hero. It’s an approach that can be used in a variety of contexts, from marketing campaigns to website design. By leveraging the power of story, you can help your brand stand out and make a lasting impression on your audience.

However, before implementing a narrative design strategy, it’s essential to conduct research to ensure that the narrative resonates with your target audience. Narrative research design is a qualitative research approach that explores how people make sense of their experiences through storytelling.

It involves collecting and analyzing information to understand how people construct their identities, make meaning of their lives, and interpret the world around them. This intel can be used to create a narrative, or story, that speaks to your target audience’s values, beliefs, and desires.

What Makes a Great Story?

There are a few key elements that make up good stories and create compelling narratives. Don’t skip any of them, because even if your audience doesn’t know what’s off specifically, you can bet they’ll still sense something is missing.

  • Character Development- the main character, or hero, of the story should be relatable and likable, with clear motivations and a journey your audience can relate to.
  • Plot and Structure- every story should have a clear beginning, middle, and end, with a conflict or problem that the hero must overcome to achieve their goal.
  • Setting- story settings should be vividly described, creating a sense of atmosphere and helping your audience become immersed in that world.
  • Theme- a theme is a central message that resonates with your audience, something that often provides deeper meaning or a key take away they can apply to their own lives.

What About Storyselling?

“Storyselling” is merely a term used to describe the practice of using storytelling to sell products or services. Effective storyselling involves using the elements of good storytelling to create a compelling narrative that resonates with your audience.

By focusing on the hero’s journey and creating a sense of empathy and relatability with your audience, you can create emotional ties that increase engagement, loyalty, and ultimately, conversions.

Steps to Creating a Narrative Design Strategy

  1. Defining your brand identity. Before you can create a narrative that resonates with your target audience, you need to define your brand identity. This involves understanding your brand’s values, mission, and unique selling proposition.
  2. Identifying your target audience. Once you have a clear idea of your brand identity, you need to identify your target audience. This involves understanding their needs, pain points, and aspirations.
  3. Crafting your narrative. With a clear understanding of your brand identity and target audience, you can start crafting your narrative. This involves developing a story that positions your target audience as the hero and showcases how your brand or product/service can help them overcome their challenges.
  4. Testing your narrative. Before launching your narrative, it’s essential to test it with your target audience. This can be done through focus groups or surveys to ensure that the narrative resonates with them.

Where to Use Narrative Design in Your Website

Once you have a well-crafted narrative, consider where you might want to layer it into your design. Below are some of the most common places.


Your homepage is often the first impression visitors have of your brand, making it an ideal place to showcase your narrative story. It serves as a gateway to the rest of your site and can set the tone for the user’s experience. Design it to help create an immersive and engaging experience for visitors. This will increase the chances of them staying on your site and exploring further.

About Us Page

The about us page is an opportunity to tell the backstory of your brand, highlighting your mission and values. Doing something like that helps you create a sense of authenticity and transparency, both things that resonate with people.

The goal is to create a narrative that humanizes your brand and shares your backstory, mission, and values. By telling a compelling and authentic story, your brand can establish a deeper connection with your audience. Consequently, building trust and credibility with them.

Product Pages and Descriptions

Your product pages are also great places to create vivid pictures and showcase how you help customers overcome challenges. Use descriptive language and sensory details engages the customer and makes the product or service more tangible and appealing.


Testimonials are a powerful tool in reinforcing your narrative and demonstrating how you helped others achieve their goals. This, in turn, translates into how you can help them, too. They provide social proof of the product or service’s effectiveness and value. Social proof helps you build trust and credibility with your audience. Testimonials can also create an emotional connection by highlighting how the product or service has positively impacted people’s lives.

Call to Action

Your CTAs should always be designed to inspire action and ideally, used sparingly. Aim for using them in a way that’s not intrusive or disruptive to the story’s flow. The goal is to enhance the user experience and encourage action, not detract from the impact of the story itself.

Make Your Brand Stand Out with Narrative Design

The beauty of narrative design is that it’s stories that create true connection with customers, lasting loyalty, and increased conversions. As such, gaining a clear understanding of your brand identity and target audience is just good business.

With it, you can craft a cohesive narrative to layer into your web design. This will reinforce your values and mission, and positions your customer as the hero. In this way, you can showcase how your brand is uniquely equipped to help them overcome their challenges.

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