I have began studying Interaction Design in University this year. We have been asked to answer the following questions:

Discuss how context scenarios are developed, & their use in the design process.

I've tried googling this, but the only results I found were regarding "Scenarios" in general.

I couldn't find anything in great detail specific to Context Scenarios

For example, one article gave a general overview of "Scenarios", and mentioned briefly different types such as Context, Keypath, etc. but again, nothing in great detail.

Can you guys please help me out, and perhaps point me to some useful resources that could help me answer the above question?

Thanks a lot for any help.

  • From my experience, a great resource for this sort of behavior is material design, where animation adds context to actions that were created by the user or system. Take a look here: material.io/guidelines/motion/…
    – UXerUIer
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 15:27
  • 1
    From my understanding context scenarios could also involve specific use cases involving a persona that puts into context how the application would be used in a specific case. Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 15:46

2 Answers 2


Don´t let the word context throw you off. I am pretty sure your instructor intends you to look at Scenarios development and the benefits of scenarios over functional testing or observation without a context for the behaviour. That is: scenarios by definition provide context, by setting the stage for a particular task or goal.

Excerpt from a Nielsen Norman Group article:

´In order to observe participants you need to give them something to do. These assignments are frequently referred to as tasks. (During testing I like to call them “activities” to avoid making the participants feel like they’re being tested). Rather than simply ordering test users to "do X" with no explanation, it's better to situate the request within a short scenario that sets the stage for the action and provides a bit of explanation and context for why the user is "doing X." ´

"Turn User Goals into Task Scenarios for Usability Testing

Another article that may help illustrate the benefit of the context you get from a "scenario" vs. a "direct task":

A scenario task is presented as a mini user story: often it has the character, the context and the necessary details for achieving the goal. - https://design.canonical.com/2013/08/usability-testing-how-do-we-design-effective-tasks/

See also: https://uxthink.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/using_scenarios/

  • The reason context is throwing me off though, is that there is another question in which we are asked to talk about keypath & validation scenarios. Commented May 4, 2017 at 14:51

Seems like your instructor is referring to the terminology used in About Face by Alan Cooper et al. You can find the full definition and some examples in chapter four.

Here is a short summary: A context scenario is the story of a persona using your future product in an optimal way. You are basically imagining how the product will fulfill the persona's needs, and helps them achieve their goals. They are typically used as the very first step of ideation and before you go into the sketching phase, and are very useful in extracting data and functional requirements.

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