Why Thinking Mobile Means Thinking About “User Scenarios”

Editor’s Note: Today’s blog post  was written by Irene Westcott, Creative Director at Movéo.

By now, you’ve heard all the impressive statistics –– like the fact that mobile searches have increased 400% since 20101, and that smartphones will be the Internet device of choice by 2013.2

But what you may not have heard is how to create impactful content for those millions of mobile devices. And while there are many factors that shape effective mobile content, it all begins with the “user scenario.”

What’s a User Scenario?

User scenarios are about trying to envision where people will be and what they’ll be doing as they consume your content. The goal is to understand how these contextual factors shape their content needs. Keep in mind, user scenarios are not the same as “user personas,” another often-discussed content strategy tool. The difference? User personas are frameworks for understanding people; user scenarios are frameworks for understanding situations.

Here’s a sample user scenario that comes from CMSWire.com and Content Strategist Ahava Leibtag:

User A is at one of our physical stores. He wants to know how much the camera that he is holding in his hand would cost online. Can he save money by buying the camera or any of the accessories online? Is it possible to use the online price in the store to negotiate for a better deal?

Moving from Context to Content

So let’s say that you –– and your crackerjack web team –– have thought through as many user scenarios as you can. Now what? How do you use those insights to create compelling content?

•     Evaluate and prioritize your existing web content

      For the purposes of this post, let’s assume you do not already have a mobile optimized site. Start by looking at the metrics for your traditional website, paying special attention to the pages/features get the most traffic from mobile users. Then map this information against your user scenarios. Content that is popular on your traditional site and that addresses your user scenarios is ripe for mobile delivery. 

•     Identify and address content gaps

      Be prepared: Your user scenarios may raise issues not covered by your current content. In addition, you may find that a popular piece of content is simply too complex to translate directly to the mobile world. As you take stock of what you have, these “content gaps” will need special attention from your designers, writers and strategists 

•     Edit, edit and edit again

      To say that mobile content should be straightforward and brief is a  monumental understatement. In the mobile arena, every piece of communication must be boiled down to its essence and expressed in the tersest way possible. Expect to  hack away at verbiage and visuals until you think you can’t possibly cut anymore. Then go back and do it again. 

•     Make it easy to take action

      Determine upfront what sort of action(s) you want users to take, then optimize your mobile site process for this type conversion. You’ll want to have as few steps as possible; keep forms to just one or two fields and use click-to-call functionality for any phone numbers.     

•     Constantly re-evaluate and optimize

Remember that publishing your mobile content is just the beginning. User needs

–– as well as those of your business –– are always evolving. Be prepared to revisit your content frequently with an eye to making it even more simple, bite-sized and relevant.

 1 Google, 2011

2 Gartner, 2010

Image via ImpactLab.


Comments are closed.