How to write great user stories

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User Stories are a vital element of agile software development. Softwares are meant to be used by users and developers have to keep their requirements in their mind. That’s how efficient customer-centric software can be built.

If you are working in a team that is following agile software development technology, you must be aware of the fact that irrespective of your role in the team, you might be asked to write user stories for the product your team is building.

In this guide, I have shared some of the most efficient techniques that you can use to write great user stories, but before that, let me quickly brief you about User Stories and their needs.


What is a User Story?

In the agile framework, User Stories are the tiniest unit of work. User stories are the informal explanations written from the product’s user point of view.

In simple terms, it’s a small description that depicts the product outcome and expectations.

Here, “customer” doesn’t represent the actual customers of the product, it could be anyone from the team or from the organization. The only prerequisite for writing a user story is that the individual must have the end user’s perspective. Because a User story is an end goal.


Why do we need User Stories?

As mentioned above, User Stories are the representation of an individual’s expectations. Therefore User Stories offers loads of benefits to the product team.

Some of them are mentioned below:

Builds a link between product customers and product team. It is because User Stories are directly coming from the consumer of the product and it helps developers and managers to stay informed about the actual needs and expectations.

  • Makes the product more customer-centric. A glimpse of User’s expectations: User Stories help the designing team to get a glimpse of the User for whom the product is being designed. Overall it helps to improve the UI of the product.
  • Reduces the number of revisions: Since the product team gets an exact idea about the user base and their needs in every possible aspect of the product.
  • Reduces confusion: As User Stories gives a straightforward idea to the product team what actually they need to build and what all features the users are expecting.
  • Better results: User Stories give the team a clear understanding of what needs to be added or improved that too in a simple descriptive manner. This enables the team to think more efficiently in all aspects.
  • Builds a flow: In a project, there are multiple user stories, once the team completes a story, it fills them with joy and a sense of small victory. These feelings further encourage the team to take on more challenges mentioned in the user stories. Overall, it helps the team to be more productive.

How User Stories are Considered

Once User stories are prepared and added to the sprints. The developer team takes each and every user story in their backlog and considers them in their workflow.

All these user stories help the team to get better at estimation, timeline planning and give them the ability to create a more accurate product as per the users.

As mentioned above, user stories help the team to get the user’s point of view. Therefore, the team is aware of the fact that “for whom the product is built” throughout the project.


Techniques for writing user stories

If you’ll consider all the points mentioned below, you’ll be able to generate great user stories:

Outline Tasks Specifically

While writing the user stories, you have to make sure that all the tasks are highlighted individually. Avoid mixing two tasks or subtasks.

Keep it short yet Explanatory

Though you need to keep the user stories short but you have to make sure that it is straight-forward as well. Don’t skip on the content just for the sake of making your user stories short.

One sentence can help the concerned team get an exact idea about your expectation or issue.

Include Process (If required)

If you are highlighting a new or different task, you must include the complete process with steps mentioned specifically so that while developing, the concerned individual has a continuous workflow.

Avoid Guesses

If you are a team member and have to write user stories, it is advised to avoid creating user stories based on wild guesses. You must invest some time to connect with the product’s customer and try to understand their concerns and expectations.

Remember, User stories aren’t formalities. It allows the product to be more customer centric and effective.

Focus on Individual End Users

If the product has multiple end users, you should avoid creating common user stories, instead try to create user stories focusing on each type of users.

Make User Stories accessible for all

You must ensure that each user story is visible for each member of the team.

Understand the three Ws (Who, What ,and Why)

While writing the user stories, you must ensure that your story has covered all these 3 Ws (Who, What ,and Why).

Here Who represents the most important aspect of the story i.e., Who is going to be the end user in the story. For instance, If you want to include the store manager’s perspective, then you must include the store manager in the story.

What here represents the concern/issue or expectations of the end user (Who).

Apart from this, you must include Why, that represents the reason behind the issue/expectation of the end user.


Examples

If you are just starting out to write user stories, you can check the below mentioned examples:

  • As a supervisor, I want to check my junior’s progress periodically, so that I can provide them with appraisals.
  • As a visitor of the job portal, I want a job list on the dashboard so that I won’t have to stumble between different options.
  • As a marketing professional, I want to check the engagement graphs so that I can analyse more efficiently.
  • As a subscribed member of the restaurant website, I want to get all the notifications of the latest offers so that I don’t miss any of them.
  • As a senior doctor, I want to access my nurse’s activity so that I can decide their incentives.

Conclusion

User Stories inspires the product team and enables them to create a more efficient product. Overall user stories helps both developer team and end users, therefore you can’t afford ignoring user stories.

Writing User Stories just for the sake of the formality could be dangerous for the project because the product team might skip on some of the end user’s expectations.

You have to create great user stories and the above guide will help you generate some great user stories. It is recommended to try generating a few sample user stories before actually jumping on the practical product stories.