How To Create User Stories in Agile Product Development

With more and more software products on the market and the vast palette of options they offer, customers tend to focus more on quality and on using only the products that can meet their needs fast. Customer development, time-to-market and quality are becoming crucial in the process of developing a successful software product.

In this context, developing a software product with the customer in mind has never been more critical for the success of a startup or established product company.

From the building stage of the software product to maintenance and continuous improvements, all the actions have to be orchestrated with the customer in mind. Thus, at any stage of product development, creating a backlog of product requirements without user stories and a deep understanding of end-users perspectives can lead to a big failure of a software product.

 

So, what is a user story?

In the Agile Product Development methodology, a user story captures the end user’s expectations from a product feature. It is short and describes what the user does or needs to do as part of his function, using that particular product feature. In other words, a user story should answer the “who?”, “what?” and “why?” questions of a product requirement.

User stories should be initiated and coordinated by the product manager or someone in a business role and be based on user personas and user scenarios. To leverage all the resources and ensure the accuracy of the user stories, the actual writing should be the result of an open communication between the business experts and the development team.

 

Why do you need user stories?

The purpose of creating user stories is to make sure everyone in the product development team (business or development) understands the user personas, their needs and reasons. Furthermore, user stories represent the foundation of the product backlog and feature requirements.

 

User story template

In formulating a user story, one should follow a simple template:

 

As a <user type / persona>, I want <feature / action> so that <benefit / reason>.

 

Examples of user stories

As a user, I want to comment on posts so that I can share my opinions.

As a client, I want to see my payment history so I can keep track of my payments.

As an administrator, I want to approve user posts so that I can make sure they are appropriate.

As a doctor, I want to see my patient medical history so that I can give the proper treatment.

As a patient, I want to see reviews from other users so that I can choose the best doctor.

 

How to create user stories

Start from your user personas 

Every type of potential customer can be a different user persona and thus have different types of user stories. Based on the needs of each user persona you have defined for your product, determine the key activities that will turn into development requirements. To do this, you can just ask yourself what functionalities are necessary for the product in order to meet the goals and objectives of your personas. If you have user scenarios, those could be a really good starting point as well.

 

Create epics first

Think about your user stories from a larger perspective. Many of the actions required for the users to meet their goals can be incorporated into a big feature. For example, if a user persona needs to edit information like name, photo and address in their personal account, each of this could be a user story and all of them could be included in an epic. Therefore, epics are larger pieces of work that describe a user goal and contain smaller features.

 

Break epics into user stories

Once you create your epics, defining user stories becomes easy. Now you can break every epic into small, clear, feasible and measurable user stories. Adding some acceptance criteria for each user story can help assure that everyone understands what the end result should look like.

 

Review

Review each user story created and make sure all of them are based on researched facts and user personas needs. If you are developing an MVP, ask yourself if ignoring any user story would prevent the users from doing their jobs and use only the mandatory user stories to develop the MVP, while putting the rest on a wish list.

 

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Alexandra - Marketing Specialist at Fortech

Alexandra

Marketing Specialist at Fortech, with a strong interest in all things digital and product marketing. Determined to let technology improve my daily life, analytical and customer oriented, I enjoy working with development teams to help transform ideas into beautiful software.