Putting scenarios at the heart of design

in User scenarios

You’ve done great user research, understood your customer base, and modeled their key needs in personas. How do you start designing? A common problem in design is the complexity facing teams and how to face the issue of getting started. It’s all too easy to dive into screen design and then code the software.

Too many teams jump into a likely-sounding solution without taking the time to consider the alternatives and priorities from the users’ point of view. The concreteness of building screens provides a clear sense of incremental accomplishment one piece at a time. But during this period of apparent progress and excitement, it is all too easy to lose sight of what matters to users, what makes sense, and what can be done. This puts the business goals at risk.

In forthcoming articles I’m going to outline a process that puts scenarios at the heart of design. Scenario-based design provides a controllable yet creative design process around tangible deliverables: scenarios, analyses of these scenarios, and prototypes. The involvement of users (through user testing for example) goes hand-in-hand with the design activities.

Scenarios have people in them, they are specific and grounded in real world data. They provide concrete starting points and deliverables, and they tie different concerns and aspects of design into an understandable sequence.

In future articles, I’ll give an example of a scenario and give you a set of pointers for what sort of things to put in a scenario.

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