Apps and Software

What Are User Stories In Software Development?

Software Development

When an entrepreneur decides on a product or service to sell, the buyers and users are always at the center of the equation. Software development is by no means different—developers formulate creative means to cater to the general public’s needs and preferences. 

Similar to any business venture, the teams responsible for creating applications that make our lives easier and more meaningful, also create user personas.

For instance, famous mobile apps such as Viber, Facebook, and WhatsApp, bank on the users’ need to connect with their family, loved ones, and friends from all around the world. Communication is a universal human need. Before they created the app, the team already envisioned the categories of users that would likely use the software for different purposes. 

To develop a successful mobile application software, you need to ensure that the users will love your app and find it useful. Otherwise, you’ll be trumped by the competition. Creating user stories is one of the main objectives prior to the development process, ensuring that you’re a cut above the rest.

Let’s delve into one of the key components of software development—the user persona. 

What Is A User Persona?

User personas are a fictional or semi-fictional type of persons, created to represent the different types of users who may avail or use the product, service, or site. You can come up with different types of personas by talking to users and grouping them into various demographic or psychographic data. They may either be current or potential customers.

To put it plainly, a user persona describes the type of user, their preferences, goals, and the barriers to achieving them. Creating user personas further helps product makers understand the users’ needs, goals, behaviors, and experiences.

What are User Stories?

A user story explains a software feature written from an end user’s point of view. Creating one allows software developers and testers, as well as product owners, to understand how a specific software feature will provide value to end-users.

While it is practiced by a majority of software developers, creating a user story is not a purely technical task. Instead, an informal and non-technical language is used to give a clearer context to the team, particularly on how much work is needed to achieve it. 

The end goal of making a user story is to provide a better understanding of the reasons why the team needs to create the software and how it will benefit the end-users. In a sense, end-users need not only be external buyers. They can also be colleagues in an organization who primarily rely on the IT or software development team to create a unique and local app.     

In a nutshell, user stories promote effective collaboration, creativity, and a better software product overall.

For these reasons, if you’re a product owner looking to outsource a software development project, you might want to spend a few hours or days with the responsible teams to discuss user stories.

Basic Concepts In User Stories

User stories are typically expressed in a simple sentence, with the following template:

“As a [persona], I [want to], [so that].”

Typically, user stories should answer these basic questions:

  • Who it is for?
  • What does it expect from the system?
  • Why it is important?

To explain further, the following considerations should be kept in mind when writing user stories: 

As a [persona]”: It should be able to answer the question; “Who are we building this for?”. The role or persona should be an actual person who interacts with the system. In writing the persona, the team should be as specific as possible about the user’s behavior. 

“Wants to”: The intent or motivation of the user is determined during this phase. The key question for this part is: “What is the user trying to achieve?”

 “So that”: This part is rather benefit-driven. Here, the team has to determine the user’s problems and possible solutions to solve them expediently. 

The Stages of Creation 

Creating a user story aims to simplify the process of a software product development. User stories should contain no more than 15 words for each component. 

These are the stages of creating user stories:

  • Card.  User stories are written on the card. Each user story is written in a sentence with the framework discussed earlier. 
  • Conversation. In formulating the whole user story background, a meeting among developers, stakeholders, product owners, customers, and end users has to be conducted. The discussion will focus on details required to address the problem areas as expressed in the user stories.  These are called sprint planning meetings.
  • Confirmation. This phase allows the team to develop a solid understanding of the matters that need to be addressed to complete the story. The team will review the acceptance criteria for each story and if they come to an agreement that such a story doesn’t work, they will start reorganizing the tasks from beginning to end.  

Importance Of User Stories In Software Development

In software development, requirements are more fluid rather than static—these could change as customers find out more details about the system and as the project progresses. This is another reason why software development takes months to finish.     

Perhaps the only thing that does not change drastically is the user stories that help expedite the completion of the project. User stories are beneficial in the following ways:

∙  Provides clarity. The simple format saves time, unlike lengthy and full-blown discussions about user preferences and perspectives.   

∙   Encourages efficiency. These stories allow the team to focus on addressing the problems of real and actual users.

∙  Reinforces flexibility and creativity. User stories are short and direct, encouraging developers to look for possible solutions to specific types of problems. 

Promotes teamwork. Upon the establishment of end goals, the team can collaborate more effectively and discuss the best methods to achieve them.

Increases motivation. In completing a specific user story, the team can celebrate small wins and become motivated to finish other goals.  

The bottom line is, user stories are the smallest unit of work in an Agile software development framework. While it may be the easiest stage to accomplish, its contributions to the success of the product development process are highly significant.   

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