Disorganized thoughts for planning Motion Storyline

Top down vs bottom up approach 

Tome - https://beta.tome.app/ - displays an inspirational format for what they refer to as generating using AI a set of slides which get you to an end goal very rapidly. Of course the tradeoff in doing this is that now you do need to do some customizing and tweaking and the easier it is to go from blank slate to fully finished end result, the harder it tends to be to learn how to make those custom changes to add that personalized finish (as a general rule). One way to do this is to allow end users full open source access to the code. If this is not possible or part of the business model, then as you allow end users more and more control of the generation process, the product becomes more complex to use. So we always seek to give the most control over the most important (to the user) parts they wish to control front and center, and hide away anything necessary but not commonly used.

Simplicity front and center

Visual design elements have been a huge market in recent years - the templates of Wordpress world extended to strictly HTML which could be integrated into projects, and then with the explosion of Canva this branched out into ready made templates for print, shirts, flyers, posters, promotional materials, and even video.

But while the value of it was clearly understood it was arguably not the best way to approach design. Clearly the preferred approach in settings where bringing in a professional designer was feasible was to design around the content in a unique way that communicated the branding. While the templates were a huge improvement above no design at all, the criticism could be made that they were professionally designed in general, for a generalized use case. In a word - they were "templatey".

So an improved approach could instead be to automate the design process around any known content the end user could provide. The baseline for how this could be done is to start with the general use, professionally designed template. So even if no actual improvement is accomplished the end user still ends up where they would have been if they purchased a nice looking template.

But very quickly they can provide some pivotal information such as their logo and brand color and this forms a pretty strong set of rules for how the template will look, just as an example. And this of course can be automated - code can adjust the color settings of the template once their brand color is known. But many of the elements required to build out a general design system can be recommended to the end user or personalized by them based on their brand (if they have it).

In fact if this is done thoroughly it can in theory replace the need for templates - a more fine tuned granular approach is taken but it is built around the brand. This means it is much more work to create the template possibilities and automate the process, but if it can be done sufficiently the need to a number of templates the end user chooses from is no longer necessary. 

Motion Storyline took the approach of starting with three use cases to wrap the automated templates around - promotional being the main, and then technical documentation and blog format. In addition to these three use case template styles, three target formats were created from these templates - html (websites), pdf, and video. 

Using the same content for a template that can create three formats made things both overly complex (for no reason) and sort of simultaneously interesting to find use cases for. With the primary use case and target being promotional video the intended value of the overlap of formats came from the abundance of html web format that was likely something end users might already have, and was a format many smart people had long ago figured out down to a science for how to approach the process of making landing pages that had high conversion rates. So the idea was not that the end user could write out their content and make a web page, and then also create a video that looked similar and said the same thing (although perhaps that would be of value to someone, somewhere) but instead that an end user who had worked very hard on every word of copy for a landing page they already had could take their content right from their landing page and now create a video format from this landing page copy.

In addition to video promos that probably target social media platforms, the possibility of using the animation as an html web page is currently being explored. As html, the animations are very lightweight and mobile friendly until parts of the animation are actual videos. These can hosted on Netlify with the click of a button and then placed into a website with embed code. Further research is still needed to see if there is a real world use case here but there seems to be potential.

Simple, yet complex.

The Motion Storyline UI will constantly evolve and attempt to provide as much control over settings as is necessary to produce good results without becoming cumbersome. If the result the end user is looking for is a template that they would have picked out from a store filled with nearly infinite choices and Motion Storyline can get them close enough to become a viable option, then the focus will be what do they need control of to make it as good as the one they would have picked from a template marketplace. Can there be a limited set of options and inputs necessary to get the desired end result without too much time and effort invested to learning the UI? And can there be just enough advanced options to customize those finishing touches that get the quality of the end result to a place where the alternative the end user could have purchased in a marketplace is actually an inferior option? 

Of course one of the perceived obstacles to this will be how quality is determined and end users with no design experience may not understand or appreciate when design principles are applied to their brand. While template marketplaces focus on wowing everyone with visually attractive choices that seem to go on endlessly and expand to hypothetical use cases, Motion Storyline will focus on trying to automate the process of what a paid designer would come up with for their brand instead of trying to impress the end user. Of course this will likely mean sacrificing potential sales, but education about the product and about the design process with a lot of transparency into what is being automated and why can perhaps convince end users of the direction and approach Motion Storyline takes.

Big goals and optimistic vision

Be on the lookout for new updates and changes to reflect the roadmap and goals and vision of the project. More to come soon!