How to write task scenarios

in User scenarios

Scenarios are stories that describe users’ tasks and their needs. They have people in a setting, who have goals and desires. They have plots and objects with which users interact. They highlight users’ concerns and frustrations.

Ask yourself: are my scenarios believable? That’s the acid test that others will judge them by.

Writing believable scenarios should be easy if you have rich contextual research to hand. Even so, here’s a list of topics that you can use to spur you into thinking about what to write.

  1. Life goals and fundamental motivations
  2. Environmental factors: location, weather, noise, heat
  3. Physiological factors: disabilities, fatigue, stressed
  4. Resources to hand: knowledge, equipment, books, people
  5. History: how the user got to where they are now
  6. Frustrations and barriers: emotional and practical
  7. Concerns, problems and recovery strategies
  8. Information needs
  9. Timing constraints and pressures
  10. Feedback provided by people and systems

Obviously this isn’t – and can’t be – an exhaustive list. Use it as a provocation.

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