What are User Stories?

Jul 16, 2010 6:56:19 AM

User stories are a collection of 'stories' that a service provider could expect to hear from a client, for the purpose of describing and fully understanding a product-to-be. User stories are short sentences that describe, in non-technical terms, what a user wants to do on a website (or any piece of software) and why. In larger projects, it is not unusual to expect over a hundred user stories.

The user can be a visitor to a website, a member of a website with more access, or even the website administrators. A user can be anyone who interacts with the piece of software in any way. Similar to use cases, the ultimate purpose of user stories is to collect and understand requirements. The difference is that user stories are meant to be easy to read while sparing the detailed descriptions of the steps that it entails. In this way, a client describing the functionality that they want can be understood without the need for a technical background. This is advantageous in many ways, and not only in communication between the provider and the client. An example of a user stories could be as follows:

  • As a user, I will be able to authenticate and uniquely identify myself to the website by using a username and password so that I can use other parts of the site.
  • As an authenticated user, I want to be able to see what is on the menu, so I know what is available for me to order.

User stories are frequently used in software development firms that make use of agile methodologies such as XP or SCRUM, like AndPlus Design. This is beneficial because a product backlog is much simpler to develop if we already have the user stories. From the product backlog, features can be broken down into sprints (or milestones, depending on methodology), which help ensure smooth development and accurate estimates.

Brian Geary

Written by Brian Geary

Brian is a true believer in the Agile process. He often assists the development process by performing the product owner role. In addition to his technical background, he is an experienced account manager with a background in design and marketing.

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