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A scenario is a fictional story or sequence of events centred around a user or group of users. One example is ‘a day in the life’ of the user. Scenarios are told from the users’ point of view — often based on a persona.

Scenarios don’t replace research. They enable you to explore research insights further, how users and the system interact, and to draw out problems that service design needs to resolve.

Why it’s useful

Scenarios are a useful tool to explore aspects of the current service experience and the possibilities for improvement.

When to do it

Scenarios are often useful in the understand phase.  

Understand phase

They’re useful when you’re:

  • generating ideas or concepts around a particular aspect of a service or experience
  • exploring cross-channel experiences — web, contact centre, face-to-face
  • developing detailed personas.

How to do it

  1. Identify the motivator or trigger for the action.
    • Why is the user doing something now?
    • What will make the interaction successful?
  2. Describe the interaction.
    • What are the critical steps and activities the user has to do?
    • What happens between the critical steps?
  3. End with the result.
    • What happens as a result of this interaction?
    • What made it a success?

Tips for a good scenario

  • Focus on storytelling — you're not writing business requirements.
  • Keep it brief.
  • Use a persona’s voice to ensure you’re getting the user’s perspective.
  • Avoid getting into a detailed description of the technology or systems used.
  • For future scenarios, imagine how the design will solve problems or remove barriers.
  • Quotes from research can be useful as evidence-based references.
  • Cover common situations, but also consider exceptions to explore different aspects of the service.

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