Scenario Based Design as essential approach in shared mobility

March 3, 2023
Virginia Rispoli
In mid-February, we catched up with the mobility industry at the conference "MaaS, hubs en deelmobiliteit – mobiliteitsvernieuwing in slimme, duurzame steden", organised by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. Because, what’s the current state of play when it comes to shared mobility and hubs? And what does ‘Mobility as a Service’ really deliver?

Besides focus on the MaaS-pilot projects, various future plans, and results from all sorts of policy incentives, an important point of view stood out early in the morning. In the panel discussion with, amongst others, Nederlandse Spoorwegen, Gaiyo and ConnectBike it was mentioned that: ‘mobility provides real value only when it is truly integrated; When people go to a facility, on their way to friends, family or work, or to an event. Only during these -often diverse- use-cases does mobility become meaningful.’ Great! A human-centred perspective!

From a user point of view, this insight on human behavior in mobility, means that the same person may have different needs in different contexts and moments of their day, depending on the scenario they find themselves in. And that's exactly the overlap we see with our work at

Scenario Based Design in (shared) mobility

Because, as experts in the field of mobility, we can say that this is an ever-changing and dynamic field to work in. The fluidity of situations people can find themselves in demands us, digital creators, to describe specific goals rather than specific types of people using mobility services, it helps us understand possible wishes and improvement points of such products and services.

In fact, the same person might have different goal-driven needs depending on the scenario they find themselves in when deciding to use such products.

This is why we believe that a Scenario Based Approach and Design is the way to achieve (digital) products that are goal-driven for the people they need to use them.

MaaS, hubs en deelmobiliteit – mobiliteitsvernieuwing in slimme, duurzame steden.

But what does it mean to work Scenario Based?

Working Scenario Based means to analyse and understand the context where the people will use the products or services. As we mentioned already, it gives the possibility to focus on the goals and the needs of the person rather than describing the people that are using the products. Scenario based solutions are work-oriented. They describe systems in terms of the work that users will try to do when they use those systems, ensuring that the goal will remain focused on the needs and concerns of the users. Truly human centred, and that’s why it perfectly fits our way of working and vision!

One of the most recent projects where we have been able to apply this approach is the Shared Mobility Research we have done on the use and opportunities of bike sharing products in the NL and BE; it worked like a charm! Creating scenarios helped us imagine ourselves and the people using the products in specific situations of use, which led us to define different needs, pains and gains for every step in the journey and in the use of such products.

With a scenario based approach we don’t describe the people using the product, but we describe their needs and actions.

Scenarios are like journeys

If you think about it, scenarios are much like journeys. Like journeys, they consist of a setting, a situation, one or more actors with personal motivations, knowledge, capabilities, and various tools and objects that the actors encounter and interact with. Scenarios describe a sequence of actions and events that lead to an outcome, a destination. The narrative evokes images of people doing things, pursuing goals, using technology in support of these goals, interacting with the products, using them with other people enabling us to empathise with the people living the situation.

A perfect matching approach

One reason why Scenarios Based working has become so popular in design is that it provides stakeholders with rapid insights about usage possibilities and pain points. Besides that, scenarios are human to the core, as they are based on user needs while preventing falling into stereotypes when describing people that are using the products. With a scenario based approach we don’t describe the people using the product, but we describe their needs and actions. Scenarios envision a concrete design solution, and can be defined at many levels of detail.

The fluidity of opportunities and challenges in the (shared) mobility industry, makes the perfect field for a Scenario Based Approach to achieve goal-driven and human-centred design solutions. Solutions that really contribute to an optimal user experience. Such focus on the human is essential in industries like this. After all, it’s the human movement that gives mobility its meaning.


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