Does anyone know of any papers/articles where the effort is focused on determining UX features (for any type of product) using scenarios/narratives. The key is that the article needs to be focused on DETERMINING a set of features of interest. In the articles I have the author has a list of features and are using users to help determine which are relevant whereas, in my case I want to determine the list of features. My idea is to use scenarios/narratives or another approach (if you can suggest one) to develop a list of UX features that provide a positive experience with robotic systems. The challenge here is that the user does not have an actual robot to use nor do we have a prototype to use for stimulation. Any suggestions on a paper/article or thoughts on the approach?

*****UPDATE I am really late coming back to this but in this regard we were looking at UX to see how it could improve collaboration between humans and robots. We ended up going in a slightly different direction and did not focus on creating scenarios but instead interviewed a number of space robotic operators and analyzed their comments based on hedonic and pragmatic UX Dimensions to determine their UX thoughts on current systems. Results of effort see link

  • This is not a research article, but a well written book outlining the process of understanding the users mental model in order to determine what problem needs solving. Mental Models by Indi Young. rosenfeldmedia.com/books/mental-models
    – nightning
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 19:58
  • 1
    Possible related question: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/70038/…
    – nightning
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 20:01
  • This sounds like brainstorming/focus grouping.
    – DA01
    Commented Oct 1, 2015 at 20:29
  • 2
    whats a UX feature? a persona? UX doesn't have features as I understand it
    – colmcq
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 15:41

3 Answers 3


UX is not a feature

There is no "UX feature". The total of the features and systems impact a user's experience. As a profession, our role is to design the whole system to create a net positive experience that answers business needs like efficiency, achievement, engagement, conversion, etc.

Get focused

Making the fist leap is hard. There are just too many possible solutions when starting from scratch. The first step is understanding your vision as an organization, which should be based on extensive research into this need. Even then, the possibilities often seem endless.

Take it one target persona at a time. Consider how few personas you can address in order to create an MVP. The more focused you are at this stage, the more likely you are to create an unbeatable experience.

Build scenarios

With your persona in mind, you're going to "fake it 'til you make it" to get rolling. You'll test your assumptions against real users later, but you have to start somewhere!

Start at the highest level definition of what it means to use your product then drill down.

  • Define scenarios where you envision your robotic solutions assisting humans.
  • Define activities that will be involved in those scenarios.
  • Define probable tasks involved in completing those activities.

Once you have those definitions, you can start to think about what features and systems will be required to make the experience work.

Put that all together and you have your holistic "UX feature".


Hmm... Normally, the "feature" list you're trying to generate comes directly from the set of business problems you're trying to solve. For example:

End user "Sally" wants to create a shopping list that she can take with her to the store. She also wants to be able to share that list with her husband. However, sometimes her husband buys groceries on the list and forgets to tell her, so they both end up accidentally buying an item off the list!

Ok, so if I own a company that makes phone applications, I might suggest the following features:

  • Create shopping list
  • Add/Edit/Delete items on shopping list
  • Share shopping list of others
  • When a change happens on a shared shopping list, it happens on all copies of that shared list

Okay, so now I have my features based on my business problem. However, if this isn't our first rodeo, we'll probably try to brainstorm additional features that we might think or guess that our user will want. To do this, we might ask ourselves questions like:

Okay, this is what Sally wants, but what might other types of users want?

So now we can begin to brainstorm different imaginary users or contexts that may be beneficial in guessing important features. For example:

  • A parent that wants to share a list with a child to quickly pick up a few things for dinner
  • A user that has an aversion to techonology, and prefers to do things the "old fashioned way"
  • A shopper that builds their grocery list based on dishes they intend to cook throughout the week

And then from these contexts we might realize that being able to send "quick shopping lists" as text messages to contacts might be nice, or being able to print a list so it can be taken to the store without relying on an electronic device, or adding an entire "recipe's module" that allows you to build your grocery list based on ingredients in the dishes you intend to cook.

too long; didn't read

Coming up with a features list is easy. Imagine your various end users. What problems do they face? How can we help make their lives easier? And if you don't know the answer to these questions, do some "requirements gathering" by questioning them to better understand what they do, how they do it, and what their pain points are.

Where it gets tricky is prioritizing these problems, helping one user without making things more difficult for others, and figuring out how to implement these features in such a way that it provides a solid user experience.

  • 1
    Hmmm, Having re-read your response, I wonder if the issue is not so much the scenario but what questions should be asked that would elicit information on UX features for robotics systems during a brainstorming session (e.g., what feature(s) provides engagement, focus attention, endurability, what features are a must have vs nice to have vs. indifferent, what causes felt invovlement etc.). Keeping in mind that the focus is on future missions that involve humans and robots working together
    – Doc
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 15:27
  • 100%. The only thing I would point out is that end users can confuse what they want with what they need. Having a solid understanding of their challenges can make it easier for you, the UX specialist/architect, to prioritize/brainstorm features. Also, the questions you ask will change as your understanding of the situation/users evolve. Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 15:35
  • Total agree on the what they need vs what they want. Ultimately I hope to get a feature list that we would use for additional studies to determine which features are actually needed and provide the UX the end-user expects.
    – Doc
    Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 15:46

Daniel thanks for the response. In our case it is not that simple. We are looking at robotic systems that have not been invented yet i.e. robot system +10 years from now. We are interested in seeing what UX features those systems should include. We need to start researching this now while the robotic groups are doing research into improving their systems (as you know we can't wait until the system is built)

As for problems, in my research domain the problem is the robots should do the 3 D's (Dull, Dirty and Dangerous Task). As you can see the problems are very high level and the specific tasks are not clearly defined (there is another group that is working on defining the robots tasks/role). If we had a well defined set of problems or tasks to be accomplished by the robot(s) then what you suggest would work

We (really I) have come to realize that we can build a usable (usable with quite a bit of training) robot but the UX is such that the human teammembers don't WANT to use it, thus my focus on exploring UX for our next generation of robotic systems.

  • It sounds like the issue at play here is that the robots you're imagining could potentially do any number of tasks, but how you interact with the robot will remain consistent. It sounds like you are trying to refine how your "end users" might control the robot to accomplish these tasks (implying that they are not 100% automatic). On some level, the UX becomes how a user can offer "input" to the robot: mechanical levers/switches, voice commands, web GUI, phone app, wearable device, etc. If you can isolate in what ways your users will be able to interact, you should be able to find examples. Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 15:41
  • Pull this answer and add the information to you question. Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 18:07

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