So you’re done with the ideation part and have found a perfect solution that addresses your user pain points. Now, you are trying to give flesh to your idea. This is where scenario building comes in.

What is Scenario Building?

Scenario Building is an intermediate stage before paper prototyping. This exercise is meant to give you a look into ways you can get a single task done.

With Scenario Building, you are picking up all the activities that you envision your user will perform. Then you pick each and every activity and list all possible steps that are a part of that particular activity.

So how do you build your scenarios?

Follow the steps for building effective scenarios.

1- Imagine your ideal customers (or persona) in the situation where he/she might be performing a certain task.

2- For that particular task, you try to list down all the steps that you foresee your user performing with your solution.

3- Use sticky notes and write each step of the activity.

4- Write one step per sticky note. As the same output can be used as epics for your product development (more about this, later in another article).

(Why Sticky Notes? Using sticky notes help you move around the steps and add edit delete the ones needed.)

5- Do not focus on the interface or design limitations as those can be handled later on. Right now, simply add each task as a new step to the scenario the user is in.

6- Make sure each individual comes up with their own scenarios.

7- Everyone should discuss and debate each one of the scenarios. You can learn, add, edit and delete scenarios as you like.

8- Once all the scenarios have been discussed, you can then work as a team to finalize the ones that work for you. Or you can go for another round and this time make pairs to work on the scenarios.

9- Once finalized, you have the basic skeleton of the user interactions at hand.

10- Now comes validation and testing. Present your user scenarios to someone who might be the actual user of your service. Watch them go through the process. Don’t intervene or guide the user.

11- In case, during testing the person performing tests feel uncomfortable or unsure of the next steps, just mark and later try to understand the issue.

12- The next step is to have a look at the experience map and make sure that you have addressed the user pain points while building your scenarios. That’s your litmus test for keeping the output honest and on track.


A similar process can be used for storyboarding.

Think of storyboarding as creating comics.

You might be drawing a user in the actual situation and then making them use your solution. Each drawing advances the user to the next step.

This does require skills with drawing. If you are good at it, you can always make a comic strip of your scenarios, and tinker with the addition of emotions and expressions.

At times, if that seems a hassle, and people are holding back because of their bad drawing skills, it’s better to just use scenarios.

So what are the benefits of scenario building?

With the design thinking approach, each and every step of your prototyping process should be focused on meeting the users’ requirements and building a delightful solution for them. With Scenario or StoryBoarding, you are achieving exactly that.

This process helps you to give life to your design. Also lets you describe and predict user interactions through the cycle of a certain task.

Also, it’s earlier in the prototyping process, so you have the ability to tweak your solution cost-effectively.

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