Scenarios highlight user needs, behaviors, or motivations within the context of real experiences. They are a tool to compare and contrast the way things should be and the way things actually are. We build scenarios to aide in design, but can also be used during implementation and testing to ensure the product meets your user’s expectations.
User scenarios tap into the user’s motivation, circumstances, and work settings when building an interaction design. They spotlight what happens from the perspective of the individual using the system and are made up of many different levels of detail, including day-in-the-life scenarios, task completion scenarios, vignette scenarios, what-if scenarios, misuse scenarios, operation scenarios, organization scenarios, elaborated scenarios, and exception scenarios.
Different scenarios can be tied to different personas or segments of users too. They map capabilities logically based on user interviews, design sessions, card sorting, and other exercises. They are one of many tools in the design arsenal that help build a user centered system people love.