Find Your “I Wish” Song

Every now and again something comes around and takes a few thoughts floating throughout your brainwaves and strings them together. Through an episode of NPR’s This American Life, a strange — and as Disney would have it, magical — connection was made. It felt like for the first time in my life I was finally connecting Disney movies and agile design processes! Can you believe I’m only now making this connection?

Let me catch you up to speed. Turns out, it’s relatively standard for Disney movies, and other movies for that matter to share the common thread of an “I Wish Song.” No more complicated than it sounds — during the first song the main character sings, they declare what it is that they want, and the story is propelled from there. It’s the “I Wish” song. Let me further catch you up to speed. Here at Elevator Up, and prior to any “I Wish Song” knowledge, we’ve been taking a closer look at our process. A part of which includes all team members practicing writing user stories in Pivotal Tracker. (EU’s tool of choice for tracking and collaborating on projects)

Here’s the magical connection, people! You see, a user story in many ways is similar, slightly less enchanting, but rather comparable to an “I Wish Song”. User stories describe the functional needs without much, or any details about design or technical implementation. An “I Wish Song” tells the audience what they want or need to have happen, without telling the audience just how it is going to go down. A user story focuses on the problem without necessarily associating a solution. All of this allows a deeper understanding of the overall user journey with room to cover all your bases and not be constricted by a preconceived solution.

Ariel’s “I Wish Song” tells her dream to be human, to live on land:

“I want to be where the people are. I wanna see, wanna see them dancin’. Walking around on those– what do call ‘em? Oh– feet!”

OK, your UX problem likely will not involve going from a water dwelling mermaid to a land dwelling human, and you likely will never need to cover every want and need required to make such a transition into the world, but here’s a snippet of what Ariel’s user story could look like:

1. I want to be a human
1a. As a human with feet I want to dance
1b. As a human with feet I want to walk on land
1c. As a human with feet I want to interact with other humans

Designers and other team members alike know — it’s easy to put the cart before the horse. To do some preliminary research, read a project brief, and want to be off to the races. User stories will help dictate product decisions throughout its life cycle, allowing the users’ needs to navigate your course of action.

While the complexity of user stories and the use of user stories in your process may vary, why not give it your Disney best? Throw on a classic and let the “I Wish Song” inspire you to try writing user stories for your next project.

Originally posted on Elevator Up’s blog on July 19, 2016