I recently saw a video on Linkedin that perfectly explained the disparity between the way products are designed for use and the way users use them.
The intended interaction between the user and the interface often completely differs from the actual interaction.
But, this can be avoided by inserting one single step between Ideation and Prototyping – Creating User Scenarios.
User scenarios are a depiction of the various ways a user interacts with the user interface. Remember all the instances where Alladin needed Genie?
Well, in Alladin’s case:
The instance was the issue faced by the user (here, Aladdin).
The lamp was the design interface.
Rubbing the lamp was the interaction of the user with the interface.
Having Genie appear was the user goal.
And, finally, the entire story was the user scenario.
WHY CREATE USER SCENARIO?
Persona – Design Bonding: User scenarios are built around personas. They help us understand how the persona is going to interact with the design. At this stage, you understand whether your targeted persona is able to surpass the pain points he/she previously faced and achieve his/her goals.
Reality Check: If ideation is the art of building castles in the air, scenario creation lets you know whether those castles are habitable. User scenarios depict end-to-end user interaction thus, giving a reality check to the ideation design.
Little Things: Rushing from ideation to prototyping might lead to missing little nuances that can only be encountered while end-to-end interaction. User scenarios help you encounter these nuances before spending any money on prototyping.
Who are you building for?What issues do they face? How(potential solutions) can you solve them?
Create situations where your user personas will have to use your product.
Describe the design you want to create will help them go through the situation satisfactorily.
Include the issues that you expect to crop up during these encounters. For example, a slow internet connection.
Describe how your design will help them overcome these issues.
Completed scenarios give a detailed view of the user experience you intend to design, and how this design meets the goals you created.
Choose activities classified separately from the experience map.
Create pairs of team members for each activity.
Each individual will write down each step undertaken by the user to finish the activity and achieve the intended goal.
After members have individually written down the sub-steps under the activity – ask them to discuss these steps with their partners in the pairs.
Ask them to integrate the good ideas amongst themselves, and come up with a final interaction process intended for the said activity.
Ask every pair to present their ideas in front of other members of the team. Let the team ask questions.
When each activity interaction is presented – the good ideas from each activity will be combined to create one complete scenario.
This scenario will describe user interaction from start to finish.
When all the goals set out in Step 1 of design are achieved, you know you are done.
REMEMBER: Do no describe interfaces, but describe the interaction. You want to build an interface based on the interaction and not the other way round.
Animator Webb Smith created the first storyboard when he drew scenes on separate sheets of papers and pinned them together on a bulletin board to tell a story in sequence.
That’s exactly what the purpose of storyboards is – to tell the user story in a sequence.
They show the user’s journey through the interface, focusing on actions, emotions, and intricate details.
The information required for storyboards already exists in scenarios.
One or two individuals use the inputs given by the entire team from the scenarios.
The scenario text is converted into pictures, helping the team visualize each scene.
The entire storyboard is then reviewed by the team.
Storyboards focus on the user and the user journey through the interface. Anything else is just a distraction.
Don’t get caught up in the interface design in this phase. You are just trying to understand user interaction.
Scenarios help you get real. An idea, seconded by everyone on the team, during ideation might be great – but, the practicality of it is noticed during scenario building. Scenarios put the spotlight on details that we often miss in midst of the excitement of ideation.
Storyboards help us visualize these scenarios. They help us empathize with users because they show a picturized form of the entire scene. Much like comic books.
Visualization also communicates issues that might not be recognizable from the mere text.
Remember, the devil lies in the details.
Paper Prototype: Building the product entirely on a piece of paper.
Interactive Prototype: Building a beta version of the product.
Evaluation: Testing the prototype with representative users and generating a usability report.
This article is a part of 7 article series on UX Design. To read other articles from the series click here.