To build the right solutions on the web the right way User Stories are essential. User Stories are a common practice to describe product features from an end user’s point of view, instead of just analysing features from a technical perspective.
User Stories combine “role”, “action” and “benefit” into a single sentence.
As a [role], I can [action] (so that [benefit]).
For example: “As a visitor of the homepage, I can subscribe to the newsletter so I stay up to date.”
An interesting alternative are Job Stories where you use “situation”, “motivation” and “outcome” in a similar sentence.
When [situation], I want to [motivation] so I can [expected outcome].
The same example then becomes: “When visiting the homepage, I want to subscribe to the newsletter so I can stay up to date.”
User Stories have 3 critical aspects, also known as the 3 C’s.
- Card: the story, written down on an index card or in a project management tool of choice.
- Confirmation: a set of acceptance criteria that determine when a story can be accepted as done.
- Conversation: the discussion and refinement with the people actually building the feature.
Note that without the conversation part User Stories actually don’t make that much sense.
The INVEST acronym is a checklist to determine if your User Story is good.
- Independent: can your User Story move across your kanban or scrum board without influencing other stories?
- Negotiable: is there room to negotiate the scope?
- Valuable: does it bring business and/or end user value?
- Estimable: is there enough information to estimate complexity?
- Small: is it small enough so the cycle team to bring value is reasonable?
- Testable: is it possible to show it to users and stakeholders in an independent way and to test it against certain (acceptance) criteria?
Benefits of User Stories
- Instead of isolating analysis in a separate silo and throwing feature requests over a wall, User Stories grasp the Why and the What, but not the How. It prevents thinking in solutions and focuses on the right problems to solve.
- User Stories tap into the collective intelligence of a team instead of the technical assumptions of a lone analyst.
- User Stories cause fuzz from the start.
- User Stories perfectly work together with scrum events such as planning poker, sprint refinements,...
- User Stories are easy to share and discuss with stakeholders.
- A set of User Stories can be easily brought together in a User Story Map to visualise a product roadmap.