Using Storyline to author eLearning has a lot in common with everyday activities. For example, I don’t know about you, but whenever I go to the grocery store there are a couple of key elements that determine how successful I’m going to be.

Do I have a plan? (A recipe or a shopping list)

I’ve noticed two things happen when I shop without a plan. First, I spend more money and time than I anticipated, and second, I buy a bunch of items I didn’t need. However, if I have a list, I am much more efficient. I get what I need and get out. The investment of a few minutes to create a plan has saved me time, money, and, indirectly, may also contribute to the overall health and shape of my body.

Am I familiar with the store? (Is this a place I frequently shop?)

If I’m in a new or strange store where the aisles are laid out differently than I’m used to, then it’s not going to be an effective process. I find myself wandering around looking for common items. The order I use to navigate through the store has no sense of flow—I’m all over the place. In some ways, it’s an adventure, an educational process, but in no way is it efficient, and it can be frustrating.

I thought this article was about Storyline

In my experience, helping people navigate through Storyline is a similar process. The most effective Storyline developers need the same elements for a more efficient workflow: Planning and familiarity.

Measure twice, cut once

This advice often comes from craftspeople as a reminder of the importance of planning and preparing before acting. Storyline is a robust authoring tool with a variety of options and paths that can be taken to build a course. Having a well laid-out plan before beginning can greatly improve your workflow. Starting, stopping, and changing directions can happen in any project, but having a plan can help chart a more confident path and eliminate the unnecessary steps that end up not being in the final product. So often I see unused variables, unassigned triggers, and clunky scene order left in a Storyline project, which stand out like scars reminding us of the past mistakes and lack of planning.

Are you familiar with the tool?

Articulate has helped instructional designers and developers by using a familiar interface and by intuitively naming tabs on the interface. But knowing the elements of the tool—their complexities and limitations—greatly enhances your ability to maintain an efficient workflow. Here are few tips to help maximize your effort:

  1. Building blocks - The four core building blocks of Storyline are SLIDES, STATES, LAYERS, and TRIGGERS. Everything in Storyline is constructed with these tools. Understanding these four tools helps ensure you’re using the right one at the right time. There’s a lot of flexibility in how you can use them, but sometimes your workflow is sabotaged when used incorrectly (for example, using triggers to edit “built-in” states that didn’t need to be triggered, or creating a state when a layer was a more appropriate option).
  2. Make it great, then duplicate – Storyline is designed in a way that makes duplicating and editing items a breeze. Therefore, a best practice is to build one thing exactly the way you want it and then duplicate and edit it as needed (i.e., triggers, states, layers, scenes, etc.). This can be taken to a more macro level by creating and saving your Storyline projects as templates, using “Content Library” templates, or use a Teams account in Articulate 360, and share project templates with everyone on your team.
  3. Stay updated – The Articulate team continually improves their software. Make sure your 360 suite stays updated to take these updates … many of which include enhancements that can greatly improve your workflow.

In the end, planning and familiarity with Storyline will help you become a more effective and efficient Storyline developer.

Want more? (From the editor)

Ron Price and Stephanie Lawless will present a pre-conference workshop at The eLearning Guild's DevLearn 2019 Conference & Expo on October 21: "P01: BYOD: Building Engaging eLearning in Storyline". This session will focus on using the core building blocks of Storyline to create a course that contains eLearning essentials like multimedia (audio and video), closed captioning, animations, and basic quiz questions. It will then explore more intermediate Storyline skills, including how to build interactive slides using states, layers, and triggers. Finally, Ron and Stephanie will show you how to publish what you’ve created so it can easily be shared on an LMS or Review 360.

Register today for DevLearn and for the workshop. If you do it before the end of the day on September 6, you will save $100 on Conference registration.