getting scenarios right

From a scenario in Modeling Access Control “After some browsing, she tries to use the Search link but […]

From a scenario in Modeling Access Control

“After some browsing, she tries to use the Search link but is told she’ll need to register to use the search. This costs only time, so she decides to do so.”

The problem with writing scenarios is keeping true to a persona, and not influencing it with what you think or would do– or what you wish people would do. The “she” of the scenario is a research scientist. I read “costs only time” and thought to myself, “is there anything more precious than time?” And wondered if the entire structure could be flawed if the scenario– which, after all, is driving the entire thing– is flawed.

However, the persona names (Dr. Amoxycxillian, Dr Beta-blocker) suggest only partially considered personas, and so this might be part of the problem. Without understanding the situation, the goals, and the motivations of the personas, behavior cannot be extrapolated.

Still, damn good looking poster. And a clear visualization of level of access, which ishard to get your head around.


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  1. 1
    Adam Greenfield

    Yeah, I call these “just-so” scenarios…you know:

    “Bob just got in a car accident. He runs straight to his computer and calls up the InsureCo site, where he clicks on the button that tells him everything he needs to know and everyone lives happily ever after.”

    I’ve seen hundreds of these useless exercises offered in lieu of any meaningful scenario. In fact, I think this tendency towards just-soness is the single greatest weakness in the whole persona-driving-scenario-driving-site structure/page architecture schema.

    I’d offer a semeseter-long course in narrative development for useful scenario writing. Seriously.

  2. 2
    Austin Govella

    For smaller sites I usually breeze through rough archetypal user types, but this last time, fully fleshed out users really helped me get a feel for what these people wanted. On top of general socio-economic info, I added a line to each one indicating which movie they liked better: Forest Gump or Pulp Fiction. Even such a seemingly meaningless little cultural snippet like that fleshed the personas out immeasurably.

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