User Scenarios User Experience (UX) topic overview/definition

User Scenarios: Concept Definition

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.

For your convenience, we’ve collected all UX literature that deals with User Scenarios. Here’s the full list: