Introduction to User Stories
You must have heard the saying, ‘Customers are always right’. This is the motto that is followed by almost everyone, even those remotely related to the retail world. Let’s understand how a customer’s opinion can affect your business.
Let’s say you have designed a product that is perfect in every way –
- It’s sleek
- Has all the required features
However, you start receiving negative complaints even after having the right product. Now, what actually went wrong? This is where the user story comes into play.
By observing and gathering data from actual users, you can gain insight into how your product is received and how it can be improved. While businesses should employ user stories, only about 45% of agile practitioners use them, and only 14.81% understand them.
Let’s dive into the meaning of user stories and how to use them.
What are User Stories, and Why are They Important?
User stories are techniques used in software development and product design to capture the requirements and needs of users. A user story typically describes the actions a user wants to perform and the benefits they hope to achieve by doing so.
User stories are vital for several reasons –
- They help keep the focus on the user and understand their needs throughout the development process. This can lead to better-designed products.
- They help break down complex requirements into smaller, more manageable pieces. With this, teams can quickly prioritise and estimate work, improving project planning.
- They are useful for collaboration between stakeholders, such as designers, developers, product managers, and customers. This helps teams ensure everyone is aligned on the project goals and understands how their work contributes to them.
Key Elements of a User Story
A user story’s crucial elements can effectively capture and prioritise users’ needs. Here is the list of key factors-
To write a compelling user story, it’s important to identify the user’s role, which provides perspective and helps identify their interests. For instance, in our example, the user is a customer who wants to add products to their cart and purchase them easily.
To narrow the focus and write a clear user story, it’s essential to identify the business value the user hopes to gain. This encourages further conversation and prompts questions to define the story better.
This explains the benefit or value the user hopes to achieve by acting. For example, “so that I can find what I’m looking for quickly” or “so I can update my information easily.”
This outlines the specific conditions that must be met for the user story to be considered complete. Acceptance criteria can include functionality, performance, usability, and other requirements that must be met for the user story to be considered “done.”
User Story Templates
The four main types of user story templates can be used to capture the essence of the product according to the user’s perspective and define acceptance criteria. They are –
With this starter template, you can write user stories and acceptance criteria in a clear and organised format. You can easily view all the details in one place, including priority and estimated effort. This helps ensure that everyone on the team understands the user stories and the acceptance criteria, which is critical for effective product development.
Using epics, agile teams can organise groups of similar user stories into a broader category. This user story template allows for capturing epics and user stories in one place, simplifying work management and prioritisation.
Themes are essential to the agile work hierarchy, representing significant investments in strategic initiatives. They guide progress toward overall business goals and are above epics and user stories. Using this template, you can associate your user stories with different themes, keeping your strategy at the forefront of the development process.
- SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework Methodology)
In some user stories in agile examples, teams may include extra details when creating user stories. For instance, those utilising SAFe may incorporate a benefit hypothesis, nonfunctional requirements, and cost of delay to provide a more comprehensive view of the story.
User Story Examples for Software Development
Here are some user story examples for software development –
- As a registered user, I want to be able to reset my password so that I can access my account if I forget my password.
- As a customer, I want to be able to search for products by category so that I can find what I am looking for easily.
- As a mobile app user, I want to be able to set up two-factor authentication so that I can secure my account.
User Story Examples for Agile Projects
Here are some user story examples for Agile Projects –
- As a new user, I want to be able to sign up for the service with my email and create a new account so that I can start using the platform.
- As a customer, I want to be able to view my purchase history so that I can keep track of my orders.
- As a salesperson, I want to be able to add new products to the catalogue so that customers can see and purchase them.
User Story Examples for Mobile App Development
Here are some user story examples for mobile app development –
- As a traveller, I want to be able to search for flights by date and destination so that I can plan my trip easily.
- As a fitness enthusiast, I want to be able to track my workouts and progress over time using the app so that I can monitor my fitness goals.
- As a music lover, I want to be able to create custom playlists and stream music offline using the app so that I can listen to my favourite songs anywhere.
User Story Examples for Website Development
Here are some user story examples for website development –
- As a potential customer, I want to easily navigate through the website so that I can find the products or services I am interested in purchasing.
- As a job seeker, I want to be able to search for job openings so that I can apply for positions on the website.
- As a current customer, I want to be able to easily access my account information so that I can view my purchase history.
Best Practices for Writing Effective User Stories
The best way to write a good user story is to INVEST in it. Investing your time is a must. However, INVEST is also an acronym for a number of attributes that help businesses asses the user story’s quality. Here’s how you can write an effective user story –
User stories should be independent to avoid overlap and confusion, even if they follow a sequence. Having independent stories allows for innovation in removing dependencies and avoiding blame between teams.
User stories should not be overly detailed and allow for conversations between the development team and stakeholders. Negotiations on the story with relevant parties help to achieve a common understanding.
User stories should add value to the customer and clearly state the benefits and value they will gain from the implementation. They should answer the questions: why are we doing this? And what value will the customer realise?
User stories need enough details for the development team to estimate them accurately. The team can discuss and uncover these details through the 3 C’s conversation with the product owner and stakeholders. If a story is too large to be estimated, it should be refined or broken down into smaller stories. All the necessary information should be present in the story for estimation. If some research is required, a separate “spike” story can be created to handle it while estimating and implementing the main story.
Effective user stories are small, meaning they can be completed within a single iteration by the implementation team. It allows for quick development and testing.
A user story should be testable to be considered “Done”. Acceptance criteria are defined during the 3 C’s conversation to ensure testability. The story needs improvement if the customer cannot easily determine what to test during a review. A collaborative effort is required to INVEST in good user stories and continuously improve.
Explore our Popular MBA Courses
User stories are an essential tool in the agile methodology and can greatly benefit any project. By breaking down features into small, valuable components, teams can better prioritise and deliver value to customers timely. So, whether you’re working on mobile app development or website development, using user stories can help your team stay focused on delivering value to your customers. Try it and see how it can enhance your project’s success!
With Master of Science in Business Analytics from upGrad, students can further upgrade their skills in business management and learn how to apply them in the real world. This course provides students with a learning toolkit that includes statistical knowledge, analytical skills and theory, tools, and processes that support decision-making.
Enrol now, and jumpstart your learning journey today!