Project Management Monday November 28, 2022

How to write good user stories in Agile: an epic guide

writing user stories in agile

It’s a challenge to figure out the exact wants and needs of the end user and implement that knowledge directly towards the development of your software. That is how user stories came into existence. Writing user stories has been one of the ultimate software design and development solutions to understand end-user requirements. According to Wikipedia, Kent Beck (an American software engineer) first introduced user stories in 1997.

User stories in Agile have grown in popularity in the last two decades due to their capability of understanding customers at an in-depth level and for being highly flexible. The requirements of end users keep changing every other day and user stories can be amended according to such needs to improve their contribution in app development.

When merged in the agile framework, creating user stories for your app helps you meet the requirements of a larger target audience. It provides the best way to utilize user stories for your software and app.

What is Agile Framework?

The Agile framework is the management of a project by dividing it into multiple phases to give a fail-fast direction to its development and final results. Digital.ai’s 15th State of Agile Report states that the number of software development teams adopting Agile framework has increased by 87% in 2021 compared to 37% in 2020.

Agile Framework

What is a User Story in Agile?

User stories are one of the tools of the Agile framework. Good user stories in Agile are short and simple notes that describe the end-user needs in a straightforward way. It’s an informal description that quickly explains what the end user expects from your software/app.

what is a user story in agile

User story example:

As a new telemedicine app user, I want to connect with my doctor on a video call, so that I can quickly get proper consultation whenever I need it and the necessary digital prescription for my condition.”

In short, a user story explains the “Who, What, and Why” of your software end users. That is why writing user stories is an integral part of Agile software development.

Creating user stories helps describe the end-user perspective on the app functionality. Knowing this crucial information helps developers build a user-oriented product.

The best part is that you do not need technical knowledge of app development to know how to create user stories. Any individual, startups, or business owners can do it to present their product requirements.

Importance of Writing User Stories

Writing good user stories include a non-technical approach to provide the right direction for the technical process of software/app development. The agile framework typically includes user stories to emphasize aspects that bring value to the final product.

User stories primarily serve the users. They show what problems users have and which solution they prefer for their problems. Developers can use this information to build a product designed specifically for the end-user needs.

User stories also lead to better product clarity as the team has a story that defines the final goal of the product, which gives them clarity into the creative solutions they will need to apply for every requirement of the end user.

Benefits of User Stories

The initial stages of app development can involve multiple creative ideas but only if you get someone who knows how to write a user story for every functionality, you will be able to finalize one.

And below you can find some benefits of user stories:

  1. A user story quickly describes what features you need to build and how to build them.
  2. Individuals with both technical to non-technical background can understand user stories and implement the required changes collaboratively.
  3. It helps build software and apps from the user’s perspective.
  4. Short agile stories are easy to implement in the development process.
  5. It gives every team member the same goal to work towards and achieve.
  6. These stories help create a development strategy that can guarantee satisfactory results both for the user and developers.

Key Aspects of a Good User Story Development

Bill Wake introduced the INVEST model in 2003 to describe the key features essential to writing a good user story.

agile user story acceptance criteria

Writing a user story that meets all these criterias can be challenging. Only an app development company with such skills can create user stories that add value to your project. However, if you have taken control of the entire app development cycle, here’s how you can take the first step by building a great user story.

How to Write User Stories?

You must understand every essential aspect of writing good user stories before you do it for software/app development. Only then can you build an app that serves every requirement of users.

how to write good user stories

Analyze the target users and their needs

WHO

Identify your target end users to understand the common problems they have that you can solve with your software. Good research will help you create a semi-fictional buyer persona of your end users. Another way to look at it will be to create a buyer persona of your end user to simplify the process.

WHAT

You can move forward with the solutions the end users expect once you know the common problems they have. For example, which feature do users need? Which functions do they not want yet but would like if available? And which errors can make the user avoid your app altogether? You must provide solutions for such problems to ensure a user-friendly and satisfactory experience.

WHY

Figure out why the users want a particular feature and what they hope to gain with it. It will help you figure out how much the users will pay without doubt for the solution you provide and the value the solution brings to them.

You can also conduct interviews with target users, figure out pain points, and ask the right questions. The expert implementation of these three factors will ensure that you create a unique user story design for your software/app development project.

Find out which features provide value to the users

You have to determine which features provide value and which do not once you figure out the who, what, and why of your end user needs.

Get a better understanding by asking yourself questions like:

  1. How does a particular feature improve the user-friendly experience of the app?
  2. How many end users prefer the same functions?
  3. What kind of feature can motivate them to download the app?
  4. What features can solve most of the common problems the end users have?

Your team will know the right direction to follow with app development when you create user stories for every essential functionality. This approach helps the developers understand the importance of a particular feature and the benefits it will bring to users and businesses.

Create Epics

Write epics that emphasize the key features of your app without mentioning its technical aspects. For example, If you are building a healthcare app where users need the feature to buy prescribed medicine on the app itself, the epic for it would be “Buying medicine online 24/7 with 1-hour delivery”.

You have to create epics for every functionality that you plan to provide. It will help you divide large epics into short descriptions known as user stories.

Write a simple yet informative user story

The user story format must be easy to understand for every team member, end users, and investors/stakeholders.

Here is an example of a user story for creating a food delivery app:

As a food delivery app user, I want a search and filter feature for cuisines/restaurants, so that I can easily find the ones I prefer.

Such a user story format is understandable by anyone like end users, developers, investors, and stakeholders. It provides everyone with the final picture of the direction the development team will choose.

Tip: Use the most basic sentence structure with commonly used words. And do not write any complex words or technical information in it.

Determine acceptance criteria for user stories

The acceptable criteria are the predetermined requirements that help determine the completion and practical application of a user story. These criteria can include technical, non-technical, and performance factors of the software/app.

The acceptance criteria is a stage where developers determine the steps and requirements of the chosen feature to bring the user story to life. They provide the required data to confirm that the story is compatible for testing, estimation, and execution.

Present the user stories for discussion

Discuss the user stories with the development team, investors, and stakeholders. It’s the final step to ensure that everyone involved understands the same goal they have to achieve. The various team members could point out the weak points of the user story and whether a particular user should be a priority or whether it only serves a tiny and inconsequential portion of the target audience.

This discussion will also help the developers determine and present the steps necessary for the final implementation of app and software development user stories. The feedback and perspectives of every team member will also help ensure the practicality of user stories.

Final Remarks

User stories in application development are the guides to creating user-centric software and apps that can generate considerable revenue. Especially since they help developers understand the end-user perspective on app features – an information they can use in the initial development stage to ensure a satisfactory product.

Looking for someone that can write great user stories for your app is not an easy task but you can easily find one in an all-in-one software and mobile app development company like Ailoitte. We have the team with the expertise to write impactful user stories for many types of app development projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a user story, and why is it important?

User stories are a phase in the Agile methodology that presents “Who, What, and Why” factors about your end users. It explains the end-user perspective about your product.
Creating good user stories helps you set a user-centric direction for the development process. It helps ensure a satisfactory final product for the target audience.

What is the role of user stories in agile development?

User stories in Agile software development present the end-user perspective about the software requirements. It describes who the users are, what they want, and why.

How do user stories help developers?

User stories clearly describe the end-user expectations with a particular product. Developers know the exact direction they need to follow during the development process to meet such requirements.

Can user stories benefit the mobile app development process?

Yes, user stories will provide a comprehensive guide about app features desired by the end users/target audience and why. For example, a user story for a mobile app sounds like “As a frequent traveler and dating app user, I want the app to detect and change my location automatically so that I can find the right people near me at any time.”.

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