How Does a User Story Look Like?

Fundamentally, a user story is a summary of what an application does for its end users. Written from the perspective of the software’s target market, the objective of this is to spell out how the app’s features benefit its users. 

And while it’s tempting to think that this is simply another box in a project checklist, it really isn’t. One of the best things to ever come out of agile software development is the strategic prioritization of a people-first approach, ensuring that end-users are an integral part of the conversation. 

Simply put, user stories allow users to articulate their ideas and needs sans the overwhelming jargon of technical language. In the end, the application development team then better understands what is expected of them and the software they’re building. 

Agile User Stories: What are they?

Expressed by the end-users themselves, a user story seeks to elaborate on an app’s end goals and the value it extends. Whether the product you’re building is customer-facing or not, user stories are written by whoever the app is for. 

Furthermore, they don’t necessarily take on formal language similar to how academic papers or corporate emails are written. They plainly make up an outline of the desired outcome. Once this is established, the project’s developers supplement the additional requirements and features needed to make the software fly. 

User Stories: Are they necessary?

For traditional coders and conventional software developers, user stories may sound like a tedious addition to the process. After all, what’s wrong with just breaking down the concept of an app into smaller details, and categorizing them into phases during the building process, right?

For starters, stories allow both parties—the end-user and the developer—to fully contextualize an idea.

Here are reasons why user stories are crucial for projects:

Stories put the user at the focal point at all times — to-do lists help developers monitor an app’s projects, but a series of stories help remind them of the problems they need to solve for end-users.

Stories foster partnership — the user story may come from, well, the end-user, but in this equation, app developers are storytellers too! As such, user stories encourage collaboration and better put both parties in the position to create inventive and doable solutions. 

Stories keep momentum — stories help keep developers track the gaps they want to bridge, and so every time an app progresses, wins are easily monitored, making it easy for both parties to celebrate every step of the way. 

User stories and workflows 

When a user story is finalized, the next step is to integrate it into a process. The team then decides which stories call for what features and where these features fall into the building process. In other words, this is the technical part—one that requires the articulation of functionality and necessary technology needed to pull features off. 

Once this is done, the team then adds the agreed features to the story. 

How do we write user stories?

We can divide a user story into simple sentences. Consider this example as a start: Because I’m a (what you do/consume), I want to (activity you need done), so that I (the gap you want to be bridged). 

Because I’m a — who is this app for? We’re not looking for a job title per se or one name of a person. We’re looking for the type of person this user is. What is their persona? For instance, let’s name this person Melanie. Who is Melanie and what does she want? What community is she a part of and what does she need from this particular app? Hopefully, we’ve exerted time and effort into interviewing as many Melanies as possible. 

I want to — as the phrase implies, this discusses what the user wants to do to achieve something. What do they want to happen? Do they want to receive an item? Communicate with someone? Make an appointment? It’s also important to understand that developers don’t expect the spelling out of the features to come from the user story.

So that I — talks about their desired outcome. For instance, making a schedule allows them to talk to an expert to hopefully shed light on a subject matter. Or perhaps the desired outcome could be to receive an order. This part should be specific about what precisely the users needs from the app. 

Here’s what the whole thing can look like: 

Because I’m a painter, I want to have easy access to art materials so I never have to delay commissioned projects.

Because I’m an avid movie buff, I want to get discount coupons from streaming services so I get to enjoy quality content at cheaper rates. 

Because I’m a social media manager, I want to make sure I see what my members are doing so I can better monitor the completion of projects. 

While there are no hard rules on the equation of how these things should be written, this structure helps simplify user stories for everyone. 

Ultimately, a user story consists of who your end-user is plus what they need plus their desired outcome. 

What’s Next?

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