From the archives: the power of user stories

User Stories

Of all the items in my UX toolbox, I would say user stories are my favorite. I heart them so much, that you’ll often hear me say, “if you don’t have the wherewithal to run through an entire UX workflow, but need to do something in order to figure out how to make your users happy, then user stories are it. Do that, and you’ll accomplish 50% of your UX work.”

Okay, maybe I say that mostly in my head. Maybe.

Anyway, user stories allow you to quickly accomplish 3 things:

1. Generate empathy for your users, which is super helpful when making important design decisions.
2. Tells you what to focus on during iterations.
3. Ends up being a nice framework of to-dos for both front-end AND back-end people, and helps prioritize the work.

Pretty cool, considering that there are 8-12 steps in a typical UX design cycle.

Simply put, user stories are little snippets describing what your users want and need when they come to your digital home. The preferred format being, “as a user, I want to (want or need), because (reason).”

For example, “as a user, I want to see my points balance after I log in, because I’m here to get a status update on my account.” Or, “as a user, I want to know who and how you help, because I don’t want to waste your time, or mine.”

There’s no limit to how little, or how many, user stories you can come up with. And they can be written on scraps of paper, strewn across a whiteboard, or my favorite: logged into a spreadsheet.

See? You can use spreadsheets for more than number crunching : )

User Stories in Oxford by Jacopo Romei. Used with permission under a Creative Commons license.