Scenario Based Product Design

Scenario Based Product Design (SBPD) is a generic term for design approaches that apply scenarios in the design process with the aim of achieving a high quality of product interaction. We define scenarios as explicit descriptions of the hypothetical use of a product by a certain person under certain circumstances. Scenarios can be applied throughout the design process. In the analysis phase they can be used to gather and represent user needs and wishes, in the concept phase they can be used to create and reflect on concepts and in the prototyping phase they can be used as a frame of reference for user testing. In all phases they serve as a communication tool because they are very easy to understand (regardless background or training). For example in the analysis phase they can be used to have users confirm the current use situation and problem domain and in the concept phase they can be used to discuss concepts with users and other stake-holders. Instead of considering usability requirements with regard to users and environments independently, scenarios integrate reflection on these elements. A scenario-based approach has the advantage that a scenario can describe what happens in a particular situation without committing to details on precisely how things happen. Furthermore, a scenario can be made deliberately incomplete to help developers cope with uncertainty.

SBPD is not a single design method. Instead it is a category of numerous approaches that apply scenarios for different purposes, with different sources of inspiration and means of expression. Because each design problem is unique, each case needs a dedicated design approach which includes a structured application of scenarios throughout the design phases.