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Sequoia’s James Buckhouse on the role of story in experience design

Stewart Scott-Curran
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Before getting into tech, James Buckhouse worked on animation at Dreamworks. His experience enabled him to apply story-driven design to products at Sequoia Creative Lab.

Effective Storytelling at Dreamworks

  • Find a way to transform a character's state - e.g. If Shrek walks in happy, the scenes not over until he’s unhappy.
  • Design a complement to condition - e.g. If Shrek was happy, Donkey would be unhappy.

The Meaning of Storytelling

  • Stories motivate us.
  • Storytelling is what you care about and why it is important.

What Film Can Teach Us About Design

  • It starts with mapping the personas of each character - e.g. In Doordash, the characters are the diners, the drivers, and the restaurant owners, which each have their own story.

How Can Designers Improve Their Storytelling?

  • Collaborate with product engineers.
  • Draw out the plan with other team members.
  • Use a story map - a diagram that displays interconnected characters in an event.

Goals of Sequoia Creative Lab

  • Teach designers with high potential by allowing them to work on projects within the portfolio.
  • There are no teachers or students. Everybody is a learner.
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