Last Updated: February 25, 2016
· Marko Klemetti

How to Write Good User Stories

User stories are the core for Agile and User-centered Product Development. As the focus of software development has transferred from making the product work to making the product serve the users' needs, user stories have become an important tool for communication between the users and the developers.

This text introduces the concept of user stories and the best practices for writing them.

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What User Story?

User Story describes an independent requirement for a system from the user's point of view. A good user story briefly explains what, to whom and why.

Usually users stories are written in three parts. The first part explains who in form of As a <user role>. The second part shortly introduces the actual requirement: I want to <description of the goal>. The third part is the motivation: Why should this requirement be implemented or fulfilled. So that <a motivation>.

An example of a user story for writing a tweet:

As a socially active person
I want to update my status
So that I can share my thoughts with others

User Stories are often written on index cards or sticky notes, but there are also good requirement management applications from light-weight like Storywall to heavy-weight like Atlassian Jira. My current favorite is Pivotal Tracker.

Best Practices for writing User Stories

  • User stories should catch real benefit
  • User stories should generate giscussion
  • User stories can be estimated
  • User stories can be decomposed