User Scenarios:

What is a user Scenario?

A user scenario is the fictitious story of a user’s accomplishing an action or goal via a product. It focuses on a user’s motivations, and documents the process by which the user might use a design. User scenarios help designers understand what motivates users when they interact with a design – a useful consideration for ideation and usability testing.

User scenarios can be used in the ideation phase of a design project. This is where visualizing how a user will use a product or service will help generate design ideas. At such an early stage, the flexibility these scenarios offer to a designer’s imagination is immense—a bonus that can expand a design’s potential to be highly versatile and even transcend market use. A well-known example of the latter case is bubble wrap, whose initial purpose had been to serve as wallpaper. User scenarios can also be used to determine the most important areas to test during usability testing, and to provide guidance on how each test should be done.

A fundamental point to bear in mind is that user scenarios do not represent all possible users. Instead, they typically account for only the most common users or user motivations. It is therefore common for user scenarios to be based on user personas. Good user scenarios provide context and detail in order to be as accurate and relatable as possible. So as to represent target users in the truest form possible, user scenarios need to be based on some form of insight into or research done with real or prospective users. Consequently, by working through well-thought-out user scenarios populated with valid user personas, a design team will be able to project a stronger light on their work in progress and expose previously obscure problem areas, which they can then remedy.

User scenarios are created by writing clearly what interaction needs to take place in order for a task to be carried out. A scenario should be understood by those who do not have a technological background. The user scenario should not just be confined to the user’s interaction with technology, but also the other things that happen while this interaction takes place. User scenarios can therefore include cultural information and context and a description of the circumstances that lead the user to use the product or application. For example, a user scenario describing how someone uses a mobile phone app could include information that the device is used while the user is on the train, or that an action is interrupted by an incoming call. This information can help developers adapt their designs to improve the usability and user experience of an application.

Elaborated Scenarios

Elaborated Scenarios give more user story details. These details give the Web team a deeper understanding of the users and users’ characteristics that may help or hinder site interaction. Knowing this information, the team is more likely to develop content, functionality, and site behaviour that users find comfortable and easy to work with.

  • Example: Mr. and Mrs. Macomb are retired schoolteachers who are now in their 70s. Their Social Security checks are an important part of their income. They’ve just sold their big house and moved to a small apartment. They know that one of the many chores they need to do now is tell the Social Security Administration that they have moved. They don’t know where the nearest Social Security office is and it’s getting harder for them to do a lot of walking or driving. If it is easy and safe enough, they would like to use the computer to notify the Social Security Administration of their move. However, they are somewhat nervous about doing a task like this by computer. They never used computers in their jobs. However, their son, Steve, gave them a computer last year, set it up for them, and showed them how to use email and go to websites. They have never been to the Social Security Administration’s website, so they don’t know how it is organised. Also, they are reluctant to give out personal information online, so they want to know how safe it is to tell the agency about their new address this way.

User Scenario (Elaborated)


Ben is a 8 year old school child that is in P7 in Primary School. Ben loves food and enjoys being introduced to new interesting foods. Food is very important in Bens life, but all the foods that are bad for him he isn’t interested in!!  Ben comes home from school at 3.30 pm every day and the first thing he does is throw his chemistry homework to the side, and head to his room with his selected snacks to watch his favourite cartoons until 7pm when his mother allows him to go on the I pad for a few hours before bed. Bens mother is worried about Bens health due to diabetes and obesity growing in kids, but as a Chemist herself Bens mother would also love her son to be interested in Chemistry as a young age to help him possibly pursue a career in the future. Ben cannot understand Chemistry, he struggles with the numbers and the large scientific names, he finds it boring learning about the different groups of elements and the properties and would love chemistry to be more about what he enjoys. Ben is not very good with technology but his mother allows him to use her Ipad for a few hours every day. When browsing the app store his mum finds the elements application that I am creating, she downloads it and lets Ben have a go. Ben loves the app! after being on this app for 10 minutes, he runs to his mother shouting “mum I can eat lithium”, “mum I can eat Potassium!”, “Do you know a banana is potassium?” “Did you know if I eat more potassium, I can become stronger like superman?”. Bens problem and his mothers has been solved, he can now learn about Chemistry and the elements in a way that he enjoys, along with to his mothers advantage, learning about healthy eating. 

  1. Ben would like to learn science by u sing my application
  2. Ben would like to understand healthy eating by using my application
  3. Ben would love to learn about the elements by using my application

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