Writing a great user story in Agile

Deepak Parmar
January 21, 2018

What makes a user story great?

Anyone can write user stories, but to write a good or effective user story, you need to get the basics right.

But first, what is the purpose of a user story?

A user story is a tool used by Agile teams to capture a specific description of a software feature.

Albeit from the end-user perspective.

User stories are possibly the most popular agile tool to capture product functionality.

And yet, it is easy to lose the focus when writing such a high-level definition with just enough information.

There are a few tips and tricks that can help you write effective user stories. Let’s take a look:

The 5 commandments of great user stories

1.Use this template

This is a no-fail template that can assure that you stay on purpose.

As a <user type>, I want <what> so that <benefit>. Follow the KISS rule and keep it simple and concise.

2. Just the right amount of detail

There is a critical difference between a story and an epic. A story should have just the right amount of detail so that you can code and test it within the iteration. You can add details to user stories by splitting it into multiple, small user stories and by adding acceptance criteria.

3.Fine-tuning your stories

Split your epic or larger user stories into smaller, multiple stories such that they are very clear, probable and test-ready. Everyone should be on the same page as to the meaning of the story. The story should also fit easily in a sprint.

4. A user story is not a task, nor a technical specification

Too often we put the cart before the horse and fall prey to the fallacy of converting a story into a task. Focus on the what aspect in point number 1 and the why. Some practitioners even recommend using story cards that are user stories captured on paper. The paper cards have instant visibility and it is easy to check for accuracy of the idea and consistency.

5. Acceptance criteria

Lack of acceptance criteria or poorly defined criteria causes a pile-up of backlogs. You wrote the story with a beginning, a middle and now it needs an end. But remember the narrative is from the point of view of the user before you mark your story as done. This helps teams to create accurate test cases that leave no room for doubt as far as the business value is concerned.

Finally, remember the golden rule, the purpose of a user story is to describe what the user want and not documentation.

Let’s get you started with QMetry®

Get Started

Trusted by teams across the globe for 10+ years

The QMetry brand is trusted by 1000+ customers globally across Finance, Healthcare, Travel, Hospitality, Retail, Education and many more.
These are just some of our customers.