How to make a user scenarioThe first thing you’ll want to figure out in creating a user scenario is a realistic goal for someone using your website. Once you have a goal (or task) the rest is a logic puzzle: knowing what you do about your persona, how would they behave on your site, step by step? This is where a thoroughly detailed and well-thought-out persona comes in handy. We’re talking about a user scenario in its most basic form, but if you’re interested in more advanced concepts, see this usability.gov post about user scenarios. After integrating your personas, a user scenario will then highlight the details about how your system could be interpreted, experienced, and used. Ben Hunt, creator of Web Design From Scratch, believes that scenarios add elasticity to personas by filling in the “why” behind the “who”. When creating user scenarios, he recommends taking into account these factors:
- Persona’s environment — Know where your persona is accessing your website, whether at work, at home, or perhaps in a coffee shop.
- Persona’s mentality — Visualize the scene and know what is going through your persona’s mind. This is a good opportunity to figure out how the user feels when they interact with your site.
- Impetus and motivations — Your persona is on your site, and you need to know why. Keep in mind the specific goal motivating the persona to interact with the web site, and understand why now, or what triggered the scenario.
- External factors impacting use — These could be a wide range of elements, from the speed of the Internet, the amount of time at their disposal, or maybe even a distraction from loud construction happening outside.
A (real) sample user scenarioLUX, an international arts agency based in London, conducted an excellent sample of a user scenario for their website. The central purpose of the LUX website is to provide everyday users with access to various types of video art (though they also give developmental support for moving image artists). For example, the persona, Harriet, a local art event organizer, has a problem: she needs to find a great film for her December event. Getting into her psyche, Harriet is specifically looking for a film with a winter theme. Her motivation might be that she needs to attract a larger-than-average attendance to make up for a small failure at the last screening. Harriet starts out on the home page and quickly conducts a search. She spends a little time searching and browsing, watches a clip here and there, and finally settles on a film that interests her. She reads some details about the film, including reviews from both LUX and other searchers, plus bookmarks the artist for later screenings. Finally she puts the film in her basket and hires the artist during checkout. Harriet has successfully completed her goal — she found a wintry film for her December event. As you can see, the user scenario indicates her motivations and thought processes.
Prioritizing featuresThe great takeaway from user scenarios is knowing which aspects need to be prioritized and which ones are less important. Redesigning your UI in response to the user scenarios involves knowing what needs to be fixed first. Jeff Sauro, founder of Measuring Usability LLC, explains how to handle the intimidating pile of tasks facing every designer. His approach is novel, but effective: have the users prioritize the tasks for you, an idea originally proposed by Gerry McGovern in his book The Stranger’s Long Neck.
- List the tasks — Present the tasks — features, content, functionality, etc. — in a randomized order to represent users interested in your site.
- Have the users pick five — The user reads the list, skimming for keywords, and picks the five tasks most important to them.
- Graph and analyze — Tally up the votes and divide by the number of users. The “long neck” shape most often found is the inspiration for McGovern’s title.
Plunging ahead with a planDon’t fool yourself into thinking that personas and user scenarios are all you need for a successful UI; in fact, this is just the beginning. In the grand scheme of things, understanding these elements are merely Step 0, and the real work is ahead of you. So why are we putting so much emphasis on this pre-game stage? Because starting out on the right foot will make the whole journey easier. Unless you know who you’re creating your web interface for and what they will do with it, then the how doesn’t really matter. Featured image, web design process image via Shutterstock.
So, you’ve finished college and are ready to showcase your design skills to the world. This is a pivotal moment that…
Mind-bending videos. Divisive Images. Eye-straining visuals. This list of optical illusions has it all. Join us as we…
By Max Walton
Always trying to walk the tightrope between image quality and file size? Looking to branch out from JPGs and PNGs this…