Writing effective scenarios workshop

Maryland B

Designers on Agile/Scrum teams employ user stories as a tool to scope their work and presumably, have discussions to gain insight about target users and their needs. But the typical user story is essentially a feature request, often in the format of “As a user, I need [a] so that I can .” (Yes, that’s what most user stories read like—let’s be honest here.) And that discussion—it’s most likely a user insight-free chat about implementation details, if it happens at all.

Some more honesty: User stories are a lousy UX design tool. They are feature/technology-centric (not user-centric), and give no insight whatsoever for making good design decisions. Here is a typical example from a well-regarded book on user stories: “A company can pay for a job posting using a credit card.” Explain how that user story might be used to determine if a UX is well designed. Short answer: You can’t! The only judgement you can make is that an acceptable implementation exists.

By contrast, well written scenarios give us that insight. An effective scenario gives a specific target user, with a specific goal or task, in a specific context or environment. It’s focused on users and their needs, not on features or solutions.

I believe that all UX designers should be using scenarios, but few are. A goal of this workshop is to help change that. The workshop will start with a critical review of user stories as a design tool, what’s lacking, and what designers really need. Next, is an introduction to scenarios and their core components: the user, the task/goal, the context/environment, with exercises on writing and applying scenarios. We will then add several details that are critical to effective scenarios, such as a situation and a challenge. Next, we will learn how to decompose scenarios into user stories and use scenarios to set priorities. Finally, we will explore some ways to get your team on board with using scenarios as a UX design tool.

Senior level Tools and Techniques