Writing a User Story
Best Practices for Curating User Stories as a Product Manager
Writing a User Story is another task a Product Manager does. A Product Manager wears many hats, including storytelling, which is pertinent to product management. Unlike product requirements documents (PRDs), user stories talk about the features of a product from a user’s perspective.
What are User Stories?
A user story is an informal description of a software feature detailing who the writer is, what they want, and why they want it.
A user story is typically written in one or two sentences and follows a simple structure. For example, let’s assume I’m working on a to-do list software. A user story may be, “As a virtual worker, I want to be able to get reminders from my to-do app as at when due.”
User Story is a small (actually, the smallest) piece of work that represents some value to an end-user and can be delivered during a sprint. [Stormotion Blog]
The structure is this: As a [User Persona], I want to [action] so I can [goal]. Persona + Action + Goal. You can write as many short user stories as you want for a specific product, describing the satisfaction you want your prospective users to get from using your product.
Why Should You Write User Stories?
Context. User stories, unlike PRDs, do not just tell the engineers what to create; they say why. They provide the context necessary to drive the development of the product, breaking it down into “baby steps”. It helps the developers understand who they are building for and why they need it.
With user stories, it’s easier to measure progress. There is a clear definition of what completion should look like. There is no in-between: the user can either perform that specific action or not.
They are also an effective way to spike creativity and teamwork. When the destination is defined, people will be driven to brainstorm and assess ideas to determine how best to solve a problem and work to achieve that.
Best Practices for Writing User Stories
- Create different stories for different users.
- Put yourself in your users’ shoes. Empathy is key when writing user stories.
- Write an action per story.
- Arrange the stories in order of priority.
- Ensure the components are complete. Do not write about the performer without the action or the goal. Include the who, what, and why in every story.
- Put the user first. To effectively do this, you must have understood the user and created a user persona. You must have conducted proper user research, interviewed prospective users, and understood their needs.
- Go straight to the point. Only focus on what’s important, and don’t write in three sentences what you can write in ten words.
- Write the acceptance criteria for each story. Read more on acceptance criteria here.
If you followed through properly, you’re on your way to curating superb user stories. I wrote in previous articles on how to write excellent product requirement documents and what Product Management really is.