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User Scenarios

A User Scenario is a hypothetical story about a Persona that ties into the product you are designing. User experience designers consider how the persona would act to solve a real-world problem and how they would feel about each step they take.

User Scenarios are useful for determining if a product’s proposed functionality would be effective in helping users achieve a goal, and if users would be willing and able to use the functions or features proposed.

Description

Schedule Time & Gather Materials

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Schedule Time:

  • Time to Write Scenario: 1 Hour
  • Time to Discuss with Other Designers: 1 Hour
Gather Materials

Gather Materials:

  • Spreadsheet to record scenarios and design decisions
  • Whiteboard to sketch scenario and options

Carry Out This Method

Looking over the shoulder of a woman sitting at a table, using a computer
  1. Examine your Personas and the results of your Ethnography studies to predict a likely real-world problem, or multiple problems, your users would need to solve.
    • For example, if you had a health care site and your primary persona was called Bob, one scenario might be “Bob, age 48, has been told by his doctor he needs to burn an additional 1,500 calories a week, but his long work commute and his children’s extracurricular activities leave him little free time.”
  2. Call a meeting with your product team and stakeholders to discuss in detail how users could solve their problems with your product.
  3. Write this problem scenario on the top of a whiteboard in the meeting room.
  4. Discuss how your persona could solve their problem with minimal effort by using your site or app. Note the options available to your persona, their preferences, and their emotional states as they take each step.
  5. Sketch the steps your persona might take to achieve the goal on the whiteboard. These can be written notes in simple boxes, storyboard-style stick figures, app screens, or some combination of the above.
  6. Take a photo of the whiteboard for reference and safekeeping, then record the solution and the steps in a spreadsheet.

Try These Tips

  • The key to user scenarios is focusing on the user’s goal, not the task. This prevents designers from being locked into an existing mind set, stifling innovation and potentially resulting in task flow that has little to no value to the user.
  • User Scenarios can also be used in Usability Testing. Once design work has reached a testable point, conduct a formal Usability Lab Test to find out if your product successfully addresses the problem in your hypothesized scenario.

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