Business, Project Management, Scrum Wednesday January 27, 2021

Why Writing Great User Stories is Important and How To Achieve That For Successful App & Software Development

One of the biggest hurdles that software development owners face is the lack of clarity on end-users requirements and expectations. The task of gathering clear requirements and conveying this requirement to the developer for the project’s precise development is a challenge in itself.

However, the Agile methodology can help you with User Stories!

One of the most significant advantages of using this approach for your app and software development project is the flexible nature of this method. The requirement from the owner can continuously change, with constant user feedback.

Even though writing User Story is an art, this article will explain what user stories are, how to write quality user stories, and why it is an important aspect of your app’s success and software development projects.

So, let’s start with the basics!

What is User Story?

A user story is an informal, natural language method for describing the “who,” “what,” and “why” of a product with one or more features of a software system. User Stories are one of the core elements of the Agile methodology consisting of summary and description.

User Stories are a small piece of work that adds value to an end-user by putting them in the conversation center. This activity captures the product functionality from the user’s perspective. User Stories help the developers better understand the answers to– who, what, and why, while building the application.

When outsourcing the mobile or web application development, User Stories will help you convey your precise requirement, especially when you don’t have the technical knowledge in the field. This story enables the developer to grab the essence of a development project.

What are the advantages of creating User Stories?

User Stories offer your development team clear guidance to create an efficient and valuable product for the business’s success.

Here are listed a few advantages of User Stories:

  • It allows the technical as well as non-technical members of the team to understand your requirement.
  • One of the most efficient approach to build an app from the user’s perspective
  • Enable creative ideas to figure out the best solution for the application.
  • Small and short agile stories are more easy to execute than the big complex tasks that improve project implementation.
  • Brings all the team members on the same page with an equal understanding of the client’s product and services.
  • User Stories emphasize verbal communication – instead of writing an extremely detailed description or documentation for each requirement or feedback.
  • A good User Story gives developers, business owners, and supporting teams a clear idea, which helps develop the right software.
  • User Stories offer the right size for planning, designing, risk forecasting, and prioritizing the process.
  • User Stories work best for support products that lack the exact requirement in the beginning and change during development for iterative processes.
  • User Stories encourage opportunistic design – as most software products change during the implementation process with the improving details.
  • User Stories support participatory design, where User Stories help the app owners to engage real users in the process and understand their needs and expectations.
  • User Stories help the developers build up tactics, and the final product using users’ response by changing the design quickly.

The above list of advantages are enough for any product owner to consider writing User Story for his project development.

What are the attributes of a good User Story?

The author of ‘Extreme Programming Explored and Refactoring Workbook,’ Bill Wake, has suggested the acronym INVEST for the six attributes for writing a good user story.

Let’s check out all of those attributes in detail:

  • Independent – Take significant efforts to avoid any inter-dependencies among the stories that can prioritize and create problems. Independent story does not mean zero connection between the different aspects of your product but simply a logical flow of the feature.
  • Negotiable – Stories should give brief descriptions of functionalities, basic specifications, and not a detailed report on the product. The purpose of the user stories is to encourage conversation and negotiation scope between the customer and the developers.
  • Valuable – Created User Stories need to provide value to the customers and developers. Customer needs to see through the product for its benefit, and if it cannot find the value statement, you need to recreate or de-prioritize the user stories.
  • Estimate –If your User Stories cannot provide an estimated story to the developers, you need to work until your story does. The story should convey the message in the best possible way for the developer to implement it.
  • Small – Maintain the optimum size of a User Story to ensure the product’s understanding for deciding the features functionality, product details, possible technologies, and the project type.
  • Testable – A story must be testable to check the satisfaction of all criteria. Design the story as a testable part of a working system to prove its development success. However, avoid using manual criteria like easy to use, fast, or error-free but criteria that can be automatically measured and tested.

INVEST provides an agile and design thinking approach for an effective product development. These attributes allow creating a valuable solution that will drive your project into quality product development.

How to create an excellent User Story?

We suggest using a simple and effective User Story template with a defined workflow that will help you create and deliver the best Stories possible.

Here is a sample template for you to follow:

  1. Who – Define your target customers or end-users to understand their problems for creating a precise solution.
  2. What – Define what solutions your customers are expecting and what actions they are ready to take.
  3. Why– Define why users will be willing to pay you for your designed solution and what value they bring to them.

Using these three elements, you can successfully write a simple and understandable story for your developers. You can easily split your User Story into these three elements, now try to create your unique story.

Let’s dig deeper into these three elements!

1.   Define – ‘WHO’

This is the first and probably the most crucial step to your user story journey. Before writing a User Story, you and your team must know who your product’s end-users are? Answering this question will make you understand the current problem in the market, user needs, and possible solutions to solve the problem. Create a significant buyer’s persona to achieve better transparency in your goals.

Tips for sailing through this step:

  • You might be creating the User Story for the developer, but it must speak only about the user. Design the user story as you are providing value to your end-users.
  • Don’t forget to consider your User Story development’s internal and external factors – Users and admins & editors.
  • Solve your user’s problem with empathy by creating a solution that is most easily accessible to him. Consider the target group and design the solution while considering their mobile habits and expectation for making your product easier and faster to adapt.

2.   Define – ‘What’

Now that we are clear with the target end-users. The next step is to define what functionalities users expect in the solution and how they’re going to interact with your app. Now, you must create separate stories for each functionality to maintain clarity of thought.

You have to describe the intention of the function and not the feature itself. For example, instead of writing, “I want to manage my orders,” write a Story like “I want to manage my order.” You can create multiple stories having different values for users around the same feature but make it independent.

Also, avoid describing UI as we are defining stories as negotiable, so spare the UI details. Don’t try to merge the UI guidelines in the story for the developers.

3.   Define – ‘Why’

The final element of your User Story template is deciding on the value that users get after using your application. The biggest value you can create for your users, the more recognition your product will receive in the market. Hence, this is the most tricky and intangible part of User Story development.

If the value your product brings to end-users is small, then you might be doing something wrong. Start from scratch, and recognize the flaws and bottlenecks in your product and features. For example, add better offers, constant notifications, better aesthetics, images, etc.

The following major elements of User Story will guide you throughout the journey to achieve each stage’s goals. Also, hold productive brainstorming sessions with your internal team and technical developers team to bring out a more creative idea for your product.

Take feedbacks seriously to improvise your stories as per the suggestions and critics of real end-users. This is just a User Story, so don’t waste your precious time on the intricate details and write the best possible User Story.

Final Remarks:

User Stories are universal, and you can use them in any mobile application and software development project. If used and implemented correctly, they can prove to be a big help for your development team and project outcomes.

We have tried to answer almost all frequently asked questions to address all your issues as a product owner. User stories are a great way to prioritize and design your project from the user’s perspective. User-centric stories achieve the user’s interaction by using lightweight communication for the understanding of the system.

We hope this article has enlightened you to move ahead with your project development plan. For more insights, keep following this space!

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