User scenarios are a powerful way to ensure your project is customer-first. They force you to define a strategy that is outside-in instead of inside-out.
What is a user scenario?
Commonly used in digital marketing, product development, or in general business, a user scenario is a narrative used to describe how your solution will work. It typically includes who the user is, what they are doing, how they are interacting with your product, and what the end goal looks like.
I first started using user scenarios when I had a need to communicate to both technical and business stakeholders what the end vision could look like. All the PowerPoint presentations, requirements documents, and more couldn’t break through the noise like a user scenario could.
How do you write a user scenario?
You write user scenarios in any word processing program, like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Think about the standard 3-paragraph essay you wrote back in middle school … It has a beginning, middle, and end. That is exactly how to write out a user scenario.
What not to do
When you write user scenarios, each one should include a goal: What does the user want after using or interacting with your brand?
I almost always see this done incorrectly. We end up putting our business goals onto the customer.
“I want to make an appointment with my doctor.”
“I am looking for a job.”
“I need a solution to a business problem.”
A better way to write user scenarios
To be customer-first we must correctly identify their problem, which is always at the personal level.
Same examples, but fixed:
“I want to feel better so I don’t have to cancel our weekend plans.”
“Not having benefits for my family is something that keeps me up at night. I need a better job.”
“If I pick the wrong vendor for this project, I will not get my yearly bonus.”
User scenarios can be a powerful tool to unite a fractured organization around a shared strategy but remember … your target customers don’t care about your goals.
They care about their goals.
When written correctly, user scenarios can help align you and your internal stakeholders around the one thing you can always agree on: the customer comes first.