Scenarios are basis for developing more specific usability requirements. As Jim said:” The success of your usability test depends on how well you understand how, where, and why the program will be used.”  Scenarios describe how users accomplish their tasks in a specific context and also provide examples of usage. Scenario is a description of one or more users interacting with with the system under specified conditions.
A scenario task is a set of steps that the participant needs to perform to accomplish a goal. Once you’ve figured out what tasks you want to test, you’ll need to formulate some realistic task scenarios for participants to accomplish. In short, a task scenario is the action that you ask the participant to take by providing the necessary details to accomplish that task.


Types of Scenarios[1]

Goal- or Task-Based Scenarios state only what the user wants to do. Do not include any information on how the user would complete the scenario. These scenarios are useful in helping to define your software architecture and content. You should give these types of scenarios to users in a usability test.
Elaborated Scenarios give more user story details. These details give the 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 behavior that users find comfortable and easy to work with.
Full Scale Task Scenarios include the steps to accomplish the task. A full-scale scenario can either report all the steps that a specific user currently takes to accomplish the task or it can describe the steps you plan to set up for users in the new software. Scenarios at this level are very similar to use cases, but they lay out the steps from the user’s point of view rather than from the website’s point of view. They explain how the software supports the goal-oriented scenarios that you started with.


Advantages and benefits

  • Scenarios can be used tell the importance of usability early in development stages.
  • The same scenarios can be used multiple times and in different cases.
  • You can create Scenarios and scenario tasks without being an expert.
  • You so not need much resources to generate scenarios.
  • Scenarios form objectives for future usability testing
  • Helps concentrate designers attention in the user’s needs


When are scenarios appropriate?

Scenarios are appropriate when produced early in the development cycle, they can also be used later to explore how the interface would be operated, they can be used whenever you need to describe a system and user interaction.
Scenarios are particularly useful when you need more focus in design possibilities, they also help reduce complexity to the particular technology.


Some tips

  • Try to include wide range of situations, not just the most common ones.
  • When identifying scenarios you should limit your test to 10 to 12 tasks due to time constraints. You can also ask users for their own scenarios.
  • Scenarios should not include any information on accomplishing a task. Always try to keep the balance between providing just enough information so users aren’t guessing what to do and not too much information so you can exactly show them how to do it.
  • Write down some ways that participant may use to accomplish the scenario, so that in the end you can compare how you thought users would complete the task to how they actually completed it.




2 thoughts on “Scenarios

  1. This is a great summary! Scenarios follow from personas, which inform us of who uses our software. Once we understand that, we use scenarios to describe why they use the software. Scenarios describe the situation the person is in when they need to use the software; as you write, these can be as specific or general as you like. So scenarios should be descriptive of why users are trying to use the software.

    This is the essential definition of scenarios. If personas tell you who is using the software, scenarios tell you why they are using the software.

    That’s something to remember as we get into scenario tasks, which are a different spin of scenarios and become even more specific as scenario tasks are a way to uncover usability issues through actual in-person testing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s