Early in the design process, it may be tempting to start designing your solution. Resist! Instead, take a step back and look at the problem from the users’ perspective.
In other words, it’s time to empathize with users. By empathizing with your users, you free yourself from the shackles of your own beliefs so you can focus on their needs and motivations.
Scenarios are excellent tools to keep the user at the center of the process.
“Scenarios describe the stories and context behind why a specific user or user group comes to your site. They note the goals and questions to be achieved and sometimes define the possibilities of how the user(s) can achieve them on the site. Scenarios are critical both for designing an interface and for usability testing.” –Usability.gov
Scenarios provide context for the interaction between the user and the product or service.
It’s important to keep scenarios at a high level. They shouldn’t include the details of the product. Scenarios help you see the users' state of mind and their environmental context. They help you see the goals and questions that cross users’ minds before they use a product and as they interact with it. Scenarios don’t tell you what happens in the end. They just provide users’ context and goals.
While scenarios are very useful for the information architecture phase, they’re also necessary for usability testing. They help you define your prototype and frame the research participant’s state of mind when using the prototype.
• Who is the user?
• Why is the user coming to the site? What’s the context?
• What are the user's goals? What are their motivations and expectations?
• What questions might the user have before they use the product as well as when the use the product?