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What Is a User Story?
A user story expresses one particular need or reveals an end goal that a user has; its purpose is to articulate how a feature will provide value to the customer and is written in a way that is easy to read and understand.
User stories are an easy way to convey requirements. They are simple yet powerful as they classify the functions from a user's point of view, expressed in a solid, compact form. They reflect a specific class of user needs and the value gained if things are done successfully. They also contain generic or non-technical language that offers context to the team. Analyzing a story deeply helps the team know the objective of what is being built, why it is being built, and what value it creates.
User stories are known to be one of the core elements of Agile. They help provide a user-focused framework for daily work that drives group effort, innovation and creativeness, and a better product overall.
Here are two easy-to-use sample phrases to understand a Good/Bad user story:
As a (Who), I want (What) so that (Why).
- Good User Story: As a team member, I want to engage with my colleagues so that we can work on the project together.
- Bad User Story: As a team member, I want to work on a project.
As a (role or person), I can (goal/need) so that (use case need).
- Good User Story: As an existing email user, I want to use my Gmail login credentials to access my account profile easily.
- Bad User Story: I want to access my account profile.
The Importance of Why in User Stories
Your team needs to know why they are developing a feature and the value that feature creates for the end-user after the user story is fully understood. Understanding the worth of the feature helps make the most uncomplicated user experience possible. It also ensures that the user can succeed in their goal with the help of the application. In comparison with other means of documenting user requirements and product specifications, user stories have the following five advantages:
They make planning easy: User stories make planning sprints and organizing tasks effortless depending upon the priority. Additionally, it also helps the team measure the progress in the development of the project.
They provide focus: Stories incentivize the team to think more decisively and creatively to achieve the ultimate target. A collection of stories keeps teams focused on solving complex problems for users.
They summarize the need: A user story is a simple method for quickly capturing the "who," "what," and "why" of a product requirement. This can be an easy way to define and summarize the product's functionality by both technical and non-technical members.
They provide clarity: Client requirements are formulated so developers can understand, and the end goals are described in simple terms for the product owners, stakeholders, and clients. The team can work together more cohesively to deliver the best solution for the user, which brings in a matching degree of understanding and collaboration.
They provide a holistic perspective: Good stories have multiple perspectives: product owners/project managers study customer thinking to understand the sustainability and desirability of a product. At the same time, developers provide technical viability, and testers offer various scenarios for exceptions, including unexpected ones so that they may handle any interactions with the system.
The Importance of How in User Stories
The product owner and the entire team need to think from a user's perspective and understand their wants. User stories are recorded throughout the project after discussing and understanding the issues and new requests.
These stories should be brought into the discovery phase. After that phase, the team works together to create a product backlog of user stories; these are the source of requirements and can be created or added to the product backlog whenever required. Here are five key points to remember when creating user stories.
1.) Agile teams work in sprints to produce iterations that satisfy the user's needs, and multiple stories can be created in each sprint. These user stories represent a small delivery that eventually develops into building the customer's request.
2.) Stories should be completed in one sprint. They should be short and straightforward. To make it simple, split stories into smaller and more deliverable pieces.
3.) User stories are not tasks. A single story may need multiple tasks to be successfully delivered. Remember that tasks are about implementation; user stories are about definition.
4.) Providing more clarity on the product feature results in a progressive experience when compiling the user stories.
What Are Epics?
Epics can be defined as a significant component, a large user story, or a group of user stories with a unified objective. They are generally drafted before user stories are written but can later be defined when they are identified.
They describe large pieces of functionalities in the form of higher-level stories. Planning helps understand what features developers will build and how well the features are onboarded. Epics are suitable for organizing stories across multiple sprints.
For example, this epic is written in a straightforward, easy phrase where the primary goal is to dispense beverages from a machine: “Be able to dispense cold beverages from a vending machine.”
How the INVEST Approach Helps Confirm User Stories
How do you know whether the written user stories are good or not? Using the INVEST concept by Bill Wake helps determine this. Follow the steps below to verify if user stories are written correctly.
Independent: Stories should not be interdependent; any changes to a user story should not affect another.
Negotiable: Stories should encourage discussion and scope negotiation between the team and the developers.
Valuable: Stories must be understandable and clearly state the product's value.
Estimate: Stories can be used to plan project timelines. Development of the goals by the user story should be small and measurable to determine the priorities.
Small: Smaller user stories are easier to estimate and achieve than larger ones.
Testable: Stories should be tested to help determine the thoroughness and check if it meets user expectations. Having good acceptance criteria shows that the stories can be tested.
User stories are a vital part of creating a practical, user-friendly application. As long as we have a very clear understanding of the requirements, we can create a great set of user stories that summarize the user's goals for the application. Well-established user stories throughout each sprint will help the team stay motivated and on the right track.
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