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Emotion-driven product use case design

Building products is a creative and sometimes messy process. It requires entrepreneurs and product managers to balance coming up with moonshot and ambitious ideas while prioritizing them to make sure they are aligned with the mission of their company and solving real scalable problems. Some may think that creativity and structured thinking collide or impede each other, however, with the right people managing this process and the right frameworks they might empower each other.

There are many approaches to building and designing products. A very common framework is the CIRCLE framework. I developed my own framework to identify problems and design solutions and product to solve them. One of the best user-centric methods to approach a product design project is by creating use cases. Use cases are examples of real users using your products. They help product managers get into their users’ shoes and get to think of the problems their users have, and not get biased by their own ideas without really diving deep into the problems they wish to solve.

Product management does not have clear rules, or guidelines and each company or PM shape the methodologies, processes, and nature of its product roadmap. However, there are common strategies like creating use cases to perfect your process and understand your users better. If you ever created those use cases for your product or startup you asked these questions: How detailed use cases should be? how many use cases should we cover? and how do we know our use cases are not biased?

In this article, I present a framework I developed called “Emotion-Driven Product Use Case Design”. It offers a simple framework to make sure that we cover the core aspects we need to start iterate on our use cases. It also gives us some focus on a really important question that sometimes slips out in this process among the technological innovations, the deadlines, and other priorities. This question is:

“How do we want our user to feel when using our product?”

What is the process of creating emotion-driven use cases?

  1. Define 2–3 personas.
  2. Define what are the 3–4 emotions each use cases would trigger
  3. Answer these 3W questions for each emotion use case per persona.

This is an iterative framework where you do the same action, again and again, to create your stories for each persona and his/her emotions. You can think of it like a “for loop” when you are running this process for each persona and emotion.

How do you build a persona?

This is also a very flexible and individual process. We usually put more emphasis on the demographic details such as age, gender etc. to define our persona. When I create these personas, I like to raise these 3 categories to build their profiles.

  1. Demographics: age, gender, marital status, occupation etc.
  2. A day in a life: What does a day in the life of this persona look like?
  3. Character: choose 2 characters you like about this persona and 2 that you dislike.

My suggestion is don’t exaggerate and build 10 profiles 2–3 personas should be enough. After you have those personas ask yourself “are these really my core users? do I know enough about them? if not, iterate and refine your personas.

How to choose your use-case emotions?

This is the core part of this framework. For each persona that you created define 3–4 emotions that each use case would trigger to your user. This may seem a very simple task however, it requires a deep understanding of your users and their problems. Put yourself in your persona’s shoes think how would you feel when using the product? What are the main problems your persona have along his day and how does it make him or her feel.

Does your product make your users happier? more curious? anxious?

A great tactic I use to choose these emotions is to take the two emotional polars. If I have a hypothesis that my product will make them feel happy, choose the counter-emotion and build a use case of what would make them sad when using your product. I really like to use graphic illustration in my work so I use a quadrant chart and choose two polars to define the emotions each use cases should generate

How to build the story of each use case?

After you have your personas and choosing your emotions you would build your use cases around, you need to build stories. I usually imagine that I tell a friend about my day try to start it by saying “You’ll never believe what happened to me today…”.

To help you start building your use case stories for each emotion-use-case I like to ask those three W questions:

  1. Where does the user use the product when it makes him/her emotion?
  2. When does the user use the product when it makes him/her emotion?
  3. Why does this product make the user emotion?

Of course, I would encourage you to add details to the story and if you have the chance to do this with your team, try to iterate by telling the story to others and do some role-playing.

The final product of the Emotion-Driven Product Use Case would be some kind of table you could go back and review, iterate and reflect when you define your problems, ideate and even choose your success metrics.

Do you have examples of products you are building and think the Emotion-Driven Product Use Cases would help you let me know? I would love to help you apply it and if you are happy to share it with others we’ll add it to this article to feature your company/product.

Feel free to connect with me also on Linkedin. This post has also been published here.

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About author

Illai Gescheit is a builder and a maker who is passionate about building products and services to solve real problems at scale. He also works with entrepreneurs and startups to help them find their product market fit, build their ventures and pitch and mentor them through the process of entrepreneurship. In the past, Illai led the Startup Programs and Products at Amazon Web Services in EMEA. Working at Amazon Web Services to help entrepreneurs, startups, and VCs in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa grow and succeed.

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