How to Write Compelling User Stories?
Learning how to write compelling user stories is crucial to comprehending user requirements and implementing them into software solutions.
A user’s interaction with an application can be described through a user story. A software development team relies on the story to implement a specific feature and add value to it.
Product owners, CTOs, and other people responsible for delivering high-quality software solutions to end users should pay attention to this segment. If you are one of the people working on these positions, you have landed on the right page! In this article, you will learn how to write compelling user stories.
What Are User Stories?
A user story is a short-written explanation of a software feature from the end user’s perspective. User stories help software developers (and designers) to understand all the vital information needed to implement that feature.
However, it is essential to realize that user stories are more than just technical requirements. They define what needs to be done but leave room for software developers to choose how to implement it. Therefore, user stories must provide more substantial details allowing developers to make the best possible choices:
- WHAT are we building?
- WHY are we developing the feature?
- WHAT value will it bring to the end user?
Considering all the above, it becomes clear how important user stories are for creating great software products. It forces the entire team to think from the user’s perspective and challenge assumptions not validated through user research.
Who Writes User Stories?
A user story gives a clear picture of what needs to be developed to add value to the end user. It is written by someone accountable for the product vision.
Typically, Product Owners (PO) write user stories. They are responsible for understanding the user requirements, ideally by talking to the users as much as possible. Also, they are responsible for accepting or rejecting what has been delivered by the development team. This role is essential when it comes to driving value to customers.
Some companies combine the role of the product owner and scrum master into one role – “Delivery Manager.” In such cases, delivery managers also write user stories.
You must have one of these software project roles to orchestrate writing them in the right direction. So, before writing them, consider becoming familiar with the agile software development principles.
How to Write User Stories Using Templates?
Writing compelling user stories is particularly easy if you stick to predefined templates. The example below is the most common pattern you can follow to write a compelling story.
As a <user role>, I want <user requirements> so that <desired benefit>
Check out the table below for examples of user stories created using the template above.
As a website user, I want to create a profile so that I can store my personal information rather than type them each time.
Creating a profile
Storing personal information on the website
As an eCommerce customer, I want to add a product to my shopping cart so that I can purchase it.
Adding a product to the shopping cart
Purchasing a product
Considering the examples above, every user story should provide the following:
- A feature needed to be developed based on the requirement
- A better understanding of the user requirement
- The expected benefit from the feature
Tips for Writing Effective User Stories
Have you ever heard of INVEST and 3Cs? These are the most common guides that help you stay focused on writing compelling user stories.
Both are beneficial for taking your user stories to the next level. Therefore, consider adopting the following principles if you want to become skillful at writing great user story.
The acronym INVEST contains all the concepts to follow to write a fantastic user story. Let’s briefly explain what each of these words mean.
Independent – To avoid delays, a user story should be independent of any other user story. For example, if you have two user stories depending on each other, you cannot have customer-ready software until both are completed.
Negotiable – A user story defines the user requirements, not how they will be implemented. So, it is up to the product owner and development team to decide how they will reach the requirement. From this point of view, this process leaves enough room for discussion and negotiations.
Valuable – Sounds obvious? Yes, but many user story creators fail to meet this principle. We already mentioned that the primary goal of writing user stories is delivering value to the end users. Thus, try to put yourself in the user’s shoes and find out if they provide value.
Estimate – A user story needs to provide enough details to the PO and development team so they can organize their work. The PO prioritizes the stories. At the same time, the development team plans how to turn each story into a great feature.
Small – User stories should be sufficiently small so that they can be completed in a reasonable time. Otherwise, it may become too complex, and the risk of dependencies increases.
Testable – If a user story is not testable, the development team will not know when the story is done. Every user story should be tested and reach predefined acceptance criteria.
The 3Cs model is another way to unlock the full potential of a user story. It stands for card-conversation-confirmation. Let’s find out more about these.
Cards – We write user stories on cards. These can be physical or electronic cards like we have in the Jira software. The type of card you choose does not matter. What matters is that you can add, remove, and prioritize these cards to make progress in adding value to the final product.
Conversation – Every card with a user story leaves enough room for conversation. When a team starts discussing, new ideas are born. Therefore, the cards are just placeholders that encourage conversation between the team members about something that can be delivered.
Confirmation – Before delivering the final software solution, it should be tested to ensure it meets the requirements stated in a user story. Once the solution is tested by the development team and approved by the PO, that user story is ready to be marked as “done.”
User stories are one of the essential tools of the Agile software development approach. If you have decided not to outsource your software development process, get the most out of this article and make your organization more agile.
We write user stories to collect user requirements and build software solutions according to their needs. They help POs and development teams understand what and why they are building. Most importantly, each user story points out what value the implemented feature brings to the end user.
Technically, writing is relatively easy. We have provided the basic templates which help you write compelling user stories. But, adding value to the user stories could be more challenging since you need to follow the INVEST and 3Cs standards.
Do you need help writing user stories and driving value to your customers? Do not hesitate to contact us to elevate your software development process to a higher level!