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Try user stories to create a better user experience (UX)

Definition 

How to write user stories?

The who, the what, the why

Benefits

3 Cs in user stories

The

Final words

Imagine an entrepreneur with an idea for an application. After finding a software vendor and telling them what should it be, the journey of software development has begun. No research, no product discovery workshops. Nothing. Is it the right approach?

To have assumptions about the business, the digital product and its target audience is one thing. But building the software based on mere belief? Not such a great plan, right? 

That’s why in the Agile methodology, there are so many methods that help you discover the idea and dig deeper into the user’s needs, wants and problems. One of such techniques is writing user stories. And this is what we’re going to talk about.

What are the user stories? What do they include? How they impact the user experience (UX)?

If you’d like to know more about other creative methods used during workshops, check out the article by one of our UX/UI designers.

Definition 

So, let’s start with the basics. What are user stories? They’re short descriptions of a given feature written in a simple language. User stories aim to show how a function will bring value to a target user. They capture the customer’s particular need.

How to write user stories?

One of the goals of user stories is to simplify the process. That’s why the guidelines for the procedure itself are simple. Each story should be easy to understand, concise and written in an active voice. There are no complicated phrases. Everything is as simple and yet as brief as possible.

Who can write it? Anybody. It may be the client, product users or team members. It all depends on the type of project.

The user stories can be done using Miro, sticky-notes or even in Word documents, as long as it’s eligible and in sequence. The goal is to discuss the features and alternate them to provide the most value to the product.

The who, the what, the why

User stories have a pretty systematic way of building, a template. But of course, you can change it to fit your needs best. However, there’s always a persona who wants to do something to achieve a specific goal. For example, “As a new user, I want to be guided through the app so that I can quickly discover its features.”

In other words, before creating a user story, we ask ourselves a few questions to go into the user’s head and fully respond to their requirements:

  • Who wants to do something?
  • What the user wants to do?
  • Why the user wants to do it?

In this way, we know the basics, which means we’ve got a clear path and a set goal. Now we have to discuss it, adjust the feature to fit market needs, and it’s completed. 

However, there are some elements that we may add to make it more detailed. A scoring system helps measure the feature’s complexity and evaluate how much it takes to complete a user story. Also, there are so-called “conditions of satisfaction” that set the rules when a feature story is finished.

Benefits

User stories are techniques that drive creative solutions. They make the team think from a different perspective, take a customer’s approach. Hence, they bring many benefits. Let’s see what they are. 

  • Setting a foundation
    User stories have a consistent format to capture specific functionality, such as “logging in”. They help designers in their work because, in their case, user stories work as a checklist. Overall, they make it easier for you and your team to determine the process’s next steps.
  • Saving time
    Instead of writing a lengthy description, the information is divided into small chunks of data and then analyzed. Also, the size helps in estimating a given user story. It allows the team to complete the story in a shorter amount of time, and it’s easier to fit it into sprints.
  • Keeping the user’s focus
    The stories help prioritize the features and put them in order. Thanks to this, the bespoke solution brings more value to the end-user.
  • Independence
    Each user story is on its own. It doesn’t rely on other stories. That means it can be released separately, and it won’t affect the process.

3 Cs in user stories

Card, conversation and confirmation – they formulate 3 Cs. These are the 3 essential elements of user stories. 

  1. Card – describes the goal of the story that leads to discussion. Here, we usually have a schema, such as: As a (persona), I’ll (act) so that I can (the goal to achieve/value).
  2. Conversation – this is the collaboration part and also the most critical stage of the process. The discussion between the team and all the stakeholders is about the details of a given feature. This is the point when we’re most evaluative of our decisions.
  3. Confirmation – during this phase, the team tests the story and examine whether it checks out all the previously established criteria. Once it’s done, we can move on to the next story.

The process

It’s not the first stage of the process, but it’s one of the primary ones. Before that, we should conduct the necessary research – getting to know the business and its target users is vital to creating great user stories. Otherwise, you speculate and write something based on your beliefs. Most of the times, such assumptions turn out to be false.

So how the process looks? Ideally, the team would meet with potential customers. Thanks to this, they’d observe and interview the users. But sometimes there’s no such opportunity. In that case, we have to work with what we got – the research performed by our team or information gathered by our client.

On this basis, we prepare user stories. Step by step, functionality by functionality, we write each story. These elements match together in unity – the user, the story, and the product features – it’s all related. But, these stories aren’t definite. We can always come back and alternate them to refine the user experience even more.

Building custom software is an iterative process – in this case, it’s also true. As I mentioned earlier, writing a user story consists of 3 stages – writing a short description of what is needed, talking about it, alternating the details, and finally, carrying out the tests to confirm our assumptions.

Final words

User stories smooth the process and let us organize all the features, which help us better coordinate the work. Moreover, they facilitate getting to know the real needs of the target audience. Lastly, they’re a creative way to work with a team, which, in turn, leads to more innovative solutions. All in all, user stories can significantly improve UX.

However, keep in mind that user stories are just one technique to discover the digital product’s potential and meet market needs. There are more creative methods that you should use to fully apprehend the business needs and create a great user experience. Below you can find a bunch of articles covering just that. Enjoy!

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