So, you’ve done your research ( part 1 & part 2 ). You’ve gathered lots of data. You’ve started to gain some insights and draw conclusions about your audience and about what they might want out of your app. So what do you do with that information now? 1 Next, we need to determine what our audience is going to DO with the app. We call these scenarios.
Good scenarios answer questions like… What task does the user want to accomplish? What information do they want to get? Depending on your app the answers may be something specific such as find out if it’s going to rain or check their stock price. If it’s a game, it might be something more esoteric like have fun, relax or fill some time. Scenarios don’t have to have a ton of detail, but they do need to be specific. Often a good scenario may only be a sentence or two.
These scenarios can be helpful in many ways. When we look at the competition, the scenarios can help us analyze competitive apps. When we later go to check our design or test the app itself, the scenarios become a basis for testing and validation. If the design doesn’t allow the user to accomplish these goals, the design has failed (or the scenarios were wrong, but that shouldn’t happen if you’ve done your research and writing well). Even later in the process, if users can’t complete the scenarios in the test version of the app, the programming has failed.
It’s not enough to write the scenarios though. They must be written thoughtfully and well. Think about these scenarios:
- Steve needs to get groceries for dinner tonight. He opens the app at home to make a list of all the things he needs to get at the grocery.
- Steve needs to get groceries for dinner tonight. He’s running late from work and adds his frequently purchased list to the store map to find the most efficient way through the store.
- Steve needs to get groceries for dinner tonight. Each of the family members (and guests) sends him a list of things they want him to pick up while he’s at the store.
- Steve needs to get groceries for dinner tonight. He uses his phone to query the NFC on his tablet at home to check what’s there (and if it’s expired).
- Steve needs to get groceries for dinner tonight. He’s on a tight budget, so he goes to the store looking for the best deals for his family.
Whichever scenario was selected from the list above would only be 1 of several (and possibly many) scenarios for the app, depending on it size. So once you have all the scenarios (well) written, you’ll likely need to prioritize and determine their order of importance. If the user could only do one thing with your app, what would it be? Forcing yourself to think through the priorities will help keep you focused when scope creep tries to enter the process (and it will). By coming back to the scenarios, you can keep yourself and your team on track.
We’ll also come back to the scenarios shortly when we begin to look at features, but we’ll talk about that in later posts.
1 Some industry veterans would suggest that creating a persona (a full description of a representative audience member often even including a photo and name) is the best next step. Others, offering healthy debate, suggest that personas are not necessary. For now, we’re going to stay out of the debate and say, if you want to create a persona, great. If not, that’s great too. We’ll talk about personas in more detail later this year.