Part 2 – Focus on the story!

As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, the E-clip we are developing for Social Motion Skills has followed a fairly classic design process. As part of that process, we looked over Social Motion’s existing marketing material, to make sure that what we produce is in line with their overall communications strategy and to get our creative juices flowing.

The Social Motion logo is a stylized rocket, so we kicked interplanetary themes around for a while, before zeroing in on the idea of “revealing one’s superpowers.” Social Motion’s mission revolves around determining their clients’ strengths and qualities, nurturing them, and putting them to practical use in the real world. We imagined something along the lines of Clark Kent running into the phone booth (remember phone booths?) and running out as Superman.

We also realized the importance of having Social Motion representatives and the kids provide testimonials. After meeting with Wendy Dawson on several occasions, it was pretty clear that she is the organizations’ most ardent and persuasive advocate; her presence in the E-clip was a no-brainer.

We also kept bouncing around ideas on how to implicate the kids in the E-clip, and eventually decided on circulating a simple questionnaire that would be followed by filmed interviews. We were still focused on the superhero idea, so one of the questions that we hoped would be central to the E-clip was “What’s your superpower?” Our first inkling that we were not hitting the mark with this approach was the responses to that question; they were wildly varied, ranging from “I don’t have any” to “flying” and “being invisible.” Our aim was to get the kids to tell us about themselves and their best qualities, but our poorly framed question didn’t lend to establishing an emotional hook for potential viewers.

We went ahead with the first series of interviews, and once we started reviewing the footage it became clear that our superhero theme just wasn’t going to work. We were at a bit of a loss until we reviewed the footage of a young man named Michael. He told us about the challenges he experienced pre-Social Motion, and how the organization had made a difference in his life. I’m not sure who said it first, but it became clear to the design team that we had gotten a little lost in our concept, and we needed to apply the most basic of instructional design principles: focus on the story. The simplest narrative is often the most powerful; all we really needed to do was tell the story of this organization and the individuals who benefit from its services.

We redesigned our questionnaire and headed back to Social Motion for more interviews. Though we were originally scheduled to talk with just four or five young adults, it seemed that everyone was anxious to participate, so we ended up interviewing roughly double that number. They cracked jokes during the filming, they encouraged one another, and without fail, they applauded at the conclusion of each interview. With this footage, I really feel like we hit it out of the park. Or rather, they did.

Now it’s time to let our creative team loose. We’ve had initial meetings about the flow of the content, and this time around it just feels so much more organic. It’s not hard to make an impact with such rich material; these kids know exactly why Social Motion Skills is important and how it has changed their lives. They’ve been kind enough to share their stories with us… and we’re looking forward to sharing them with you.

This blog post is part of a series. Continue to Part 3

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