Looking for user story examples for inspiration before you write user stories for your Agile software development project? You are at the right place.
In this article, first, I briefly explain what Agile user stories are. I then talk about the criteria that good user stories should meet. Subsequently, I review a few great user story examples and explain why they are excellent user stories.
Let’s dive deeper.
A brief introduction to user stories and the standards they should meet
Let’s understand briefly what user stories are before we review user stories examples.
What is an Agile user story?
A user story is a piece of work in an Agile project that will deliver tangible value to the end-user. It’s the smallest unit of work in an Agile project. An Agile software development team should be able to complete a user story within one “sprint”, i.e., an iteration in the “scrum” framework.
Are user stories the same as epic stories?
A user story isn’t the same as an epic story. An epic in an Agile project is a logical grouping of multiple pieces of work.
Very often, an epic spans multiple sprints. An epic user story isn’t the smallest unit of work. An epic might consist of multiple user stories, and the above epic might even span multiple Agile projects.
What conditions should you keep in mind while writing user stories?
Keep the following factors in mind when you create stories:
- An Agile user story isn’t a functional requirement. Instead, a user story describes a piece of work by focusing on the user’s perspective.
- You don’t describe the product features when creating new stories. A user story requires you to describe what the end-user wants and why. You shouldn’t describe software requirements, product functionality, or technical details in a user story.
- Identify the target group of users for your product. Create user personas to visualize the end-user, and use the insights gained by market research for this. Read more on the creation of user personas in this article.
- You should follow a simple template when you write user stories. We will talk about the user story template shortly.
- Product owners take the primary responsibility for writing user stories. That makes sense since they fill the product backlog in an Agile project. However, product owners shouldn’t work in silos. You should conduct user story writing workshops, and other team members should provide input.
- You should write good stories in plain language. Both end-users and the implementation team members should be on the same page about the user story. Best stories foster a shared understanding between software developers and end-users.
- Right stories are those that meet the “INVEST” criteria. We will shortly talk about it.
- You should define the acceptance criteria for a user story.
- You have thought about the user story from the perspective of the user persona that you have created. You should also try to get user feedback from real-life users.
- Use tools like index cards and sticky notes in story writing workshops to foster collaboration.
- Provide wide visibility to user stories, e.g., put them up on the walls.
- Decide on creative solutions and technical details in story review sessions.
The well-known agile user story template
Most Agile teams use the following user story template:
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“As a type of user, I want to perform this specific action so that I can get this specific desired value”.
Take the example of an HR manager that wants to search the resumes of job candidates with the best skill qualification for a job. This will make the day-to-day work of the HR manager easier by showing only the relevant resumes.
A good user story, in this case, could look like the following:
“As an HR manager, I want to search for relevant resumes only so that I can get the best-fit job candidates for specific jobs in the example company”.
The “INVEST” criteria
Best stories should meet the “INVEST” criteria. It’s an acronym, which stands for the following:
- “Independent”: The implementation of a user story shouldn’t depend on the implementation of another user story.
- “Negotiable”: The implementation team decides on the creative solution and technical details for implementing a user story.
- “Valuable”: A user story should deliver tangible value to real users.
- “Estimable”: The Agile software development team should be able to estimate the work required to implement a user story.
- “Small”: The larger Agile community recommends that a user story should be small enough to be implemented in one sprint.
- “Testable”: You should be able to test a good user story against specific acceptance criteria.
User story example #1: “HVAC in a Hurry”, which is published by Alex Cowan
Alex Cowan, an entrepreneur and advisor has published a set of user stories named “HVAC in a Hurry”. These user stories involve a fictitious HVAC technician named Ted. Ted needs to know the pricing and availability of parts that need replacement. This information will help Ted to decide on the next steps.
These stories keep the user at the forefront of the conversation. They cite the role of the end-user, and they describe the action the user wants to perform. These user stories clearly describe the value as perceived by the end-user.
Like all good user stories, these user stories have clear acceptance criteria. Agile teams operate based on a shared understanding of the work. This is one of the important building blocks of a successful Agile software development project. The HVAC user stories published by Cowan meet this criterion.
As you can see, the stories meet the “Valuable” and “Testable” criteria easily. The implementation team can work on them independently, and the stories don’t talk about the technical details.
Each of these user stories is small enough for one sprint. You can estimate them easily, therefore, they meet the entire set of “INVEST” criteria.
User story example #2: “Enable Quiz (Startup)”, another Agile user story published by Alex Cowan
Cowan has published another set of user story examples called the “Enable Quiz (Startup)”. They involve an example company named “Enable Quiz”. The HR manager in this company wants to create a quiz to evaluate engineering candidates.
All of the user stories in this example focus firmly on the end-user. They use a well-defined user persona, and these user stories follow the established user story template.
These user stories don’t describe the product features, furthermore, they leave the technical details to the implementation team.
Cowan has included clear acceptance criteria in these user stories. The stories describe the “value” that the end-users expect.
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A software development team can implement these user stories independently, and each of them can be implemented in one sprint. You can estimate these user stories. The “Enable Quiz” user stories meet the “INVEST” criteria.
Example #3: User stories examples published by the GSA Office of the CTO
The GSA Office of the CTO has published a set of useful user story examples. A part of the US government, this organization caters to acquisition gateway users. The above-mentioned set of stories contains multiple user stories for this target group.
These examples show how you can logically group multiple user stories into epics. The user stories in this set have clearly defined acceptance criteria. This makes these user stories “testable”.
These user stories don’t describe the product functionality. Instead, they describe what end-users expect. They define the “value” from the user’s perspective.
None of these user stories insist on specific implementation details. Team members in the project can decide on the technical solutions and implementation plan. Therefore, these user stories are “negotiable”.
The Agile team working on these projects can implement these user stories without depending on the completion of another user story. This makes these story examples “independent”.
Agile teams should be able to estimate these user stories easily. These stories provide sufficient information for that, and they aren’t vague.
Finally, we noticed that each of the above-mentioned user story examples can be implemented in one sprint. They meet the “INVEST” criteria for user stories written well.
Example #4: User story examples published by ProductPlan
ProductPlan, the provider of the reputed product roadmap software has published a set of helpful user story examples. This set has multiple user story examples. They cater to different types of end-users, e.g., business users, team leaders, and database administrators (DBAs).
Each of these user stories follows the well-known user story format. They all focus on the end-user instead of getting bogged down in product features.
The ProductPlan user stories define “value” from the standpoint of users. We noted that an Agile team can implement each of these individual user stories independently.
You can see clearly defined acceptance criteria for each of these stories. This makes them “testable”. A software development team can estimate them, which makes these stories “estimable”.
These user stories don’t impose a specific software development approach, technology stack, or toolkit on the development team. That makes these user stories “negotiable”.
You can implement each of these stores in one sprint, which makes them “small”. The ProductPlan user story examples meet the “INVEST” criteria comfortably.
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Example #5: Examples of Agile user stories published by Knowledgehut
Knowledgehut has published a set of interesting user story examples. This set has multiple user stories catering to different target groups of users. Each of these user stories follows the well-established template that we are now so familiar with.
Knowledgehut also demonstrates how you can logically group user stories into epics. These user story examples talk about the action that users want to take. They describe the “value” from the user’s perspective.
An Agile software development team should be able to implement each of these stories without depending on the other stories. These user stories are “independent”.
You can see how the stories don’t focus on the technical details. The software development team can make the appropriate implementation decisions. This makes these stories “negotiable”.
Technical teams can easily estimate the user stories published by Knowledgehut. We can see that these user stories are “estimable”.
You can easily implement each of these user stories in one sprint. Therefore, these user stories indeed are the smallest units of work in the project.
Finally, you can see how each of these stories has well-defined acceptance criteria. There’s nothing vague about these acceptance criteria, therefore, you can test these user stories easily. The knowledgehut set of user story examples meets the “INVEST” criteria with flying colors!
Now that you have reviewed a few great user story examples, it’s time to start your Agile project. User story definition will certainly be an important task in your project. However, you need to focus on software development after you write good user stories.
You need a competent development team. Read our blog on how to build a successful software development team. For further help, you can contact DevTeam.Space and a dedicated account manager will explain how we can help.
User stories that are written well help Agile development teams to understand the end user’s perspective. Team members can understand what the end-user expects if you create user stories well. A good user story keeps an Agile implementation team focused on the value as perceived by end-users.
A product owner should have the primary responsibility of creating Agile user stories. However, other business stakeholders in the team must provide inputs. Product owners can write good user stories only if the entire team collaborates meaningfully.
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