Why You Should Care About User Stories and the 5 Elements that Make an Effective User Story

February 21, 2019

Why You Should Care About User Stories and the 5 Elements that Make an Effective User Story

If you are a business owner or work with developers, then user stories are something you should be aware of. In the software development world, user stories are one of the most important tasks. They help to keep projects on track and within budget. In this article, we will discuss what user stories are and the five elements that make a good user story. We will also discuss why user stories are so important for businesses and developers alike!

What are User Stories?

User stories are a key component of software development that allows the development team to understand what the user experience should be based on a particular function or product. The insight gives the team building the product the information on why they're building it, what they're building, and how it will be interacted with.  User stories should be user-centric and not development-centric. A user story should never say "As a developer, I want..." but rather "As a user, I want...."

User stories are often written on index cards or post-its and typically follow the format: As a [type of user], I want [some goal] so that [some reason]. This is key in the design phase of the project, as it also lays out the details of how you believe a user will interact with your software. User stories are typically a few sentences in very simple language that describes the outcome of a function or product. User stories are then broken down into multiple tiers based on the size of the project. At Koridor, we have three tiers in our user stories: Epic, Task, and Subtask, and they almost always start with "I as a [USER TYPE], want to.." This helps our team to understand what it is that they are building.

Why User Stories Matter

User stories help to keep software development projects on track and within budget. All too often, businesses will come to developers with a product idea but no clear understanding of how they want the user to interact with it. This leaves room for interpretation by the development team which can often lead to scope creep (a situation where the scope of the project gradually expands during development). Scope creep is one of the main reasons why software development projects often go over budget and beyond the original timeline. user stories help to avoid scope creep by providing a clear understanding of what needs to be built and how it should function. user stories also help businesses to prioritize features based on user needs. This is important because it allows businesses to focus on building the most important features first. user stories also help developers to understand the user experience and how they can improve it.

5 Elements That Make a Good User Story

There are five key elements that make up a good user story:

  • user type: As we mentioned before, user stories should always be user-centric and not development-centric. This means that they should always start with "As a [type of user]... etcetera”
  • goal: What is the user trying to achieve? user stories should be clear and concise. They should also be specific. A good user story will answer the question "what does the user want to accomplish?"
  • reason: user stories should always have a reason. This is often referred to as the "so that" part of the user story. The reason helps to explain why the user wants to achieve the goal.
  • details: user stories should provide enough detail for the development team to understand what needs to be built but not so much detail that it becomes a technical specification. user stories should be written in simple language that can be understood by everyone on the team.
  • acceptance criteria: user stories should have acceptance criteria that define when the user story is complete. Acceptance criteria are typically specific conditions that must be met in order for the user story to be considered complete.

User stories are an essential part of agile software development and can help to keep your project on track. User stories should be user-centric, clear, concise, specific, and have acceptance criteria. Following these guidelines will help you to write better user stories that can make a difference in the success of your project. The reason that most projects have delays or are over budget is due to the fact that businesses that have engaged with third-party developers have minimal understanding of user stories. At Koridor, we believe the importance of educating our clients on user stories has changed the approach they have to us and their understanding of the development process. We utilize our customer portal to allow them to be involved in the user story and allow them to create their own.  This user story is then visible to the whole development team and can be referenced at any point.

What are your thoughts on user stories?

Have you found them to be helpful in keeping your project on track?

Let us know in the comments below or book a no pressure call with one of our Koridorks here.

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