What’s the story about User Stories?

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.”

3 C’s

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.

Further reading: