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User Stories and User Story Examples by Mike Cohn

By May 2, 2023October 5th, 2023No Comments

To help frame the opportunity more clearly, it’s better to get a little more specific when discussing user needs. The highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. As a [description of user], I definition of user story want [functionality] so that [benefit]. From the challenges to the originals and goals of DevOps in an organization. The horizontal axis corresponds to the coverage of the product objectives, and the vertical axis to the needs of the individual users.

  • “The customer is always right.” Though this motto is often contested in the retail world, it’s not a bad one to keep in mind for Agile projects.
  • User stories are the most common form of product backlog item for agile teams.
  • An epic that is done has met all the criteria and fulfilled the user’s needs.
  • A user story may include, but is not limited to, functionality, features, business rules, enhancement requests, bug fixes, infrastructure setup, or technical documentation.
  • The acronym INVEST helps to remember a widely accepted set of criteria, or checklist, to assess the quality of a user story.
  • It’s not required for every product increment to be released at the end of the sprint we produced it in.

I’ll start with industry-standard definitions, and I’ll comment on the changes as well. In addition, an operating agreement benefits cross-functional team collaboration and the onboarding of any new team member. It’s a defined body of work that is segmented into specific tasks (called “stories,” or “user stories”) based on the needs/requests of customers or end-users. User stories have to be specific enough so that the project team can pick them and work on them during a sprint. Before that, the team should drill down to the specifics and solve usability problems at the outset. As a user interface designer, you should be part of the project team and work with developers to make the user story real and usable.

Common templates

We’ll gain 20% from the missed orders, and having this additional feature will bring us 25% more new customers. In this phase, involve the UX designer and the developers and collaborate with them as much as you can. Their inputs in the early stage are so valuable to build the functionality correctly. You’ll learn about agile-specific techniques for research and design, such as designing smaller things, practicing continuous discovery, refactoring designs, and iterating.

definition of user story

He is the author of User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development, Agile Estimating and Planning, and Succeeding with Agile as well as the Better User Stories video course. Mike is a founding member of the Agile Alliance and Scrum Alliance and can be reached at If you want to succeed with agile, you can also have Mike email you a short tip each week. A User Story is a tool to move the focus from What we’re building (what often happens with traditional requirements) to Why and Who.

Want to create Better User Stories with Mike – Live?

You can bring your personas and user scenarios to the user stories session and build the right framework for all stakeholders. Let’s examine a tool so simple yet so powerful that once you’ve learned about it, you will apply it in all your projects. It is a great design method that enhances collaboration among all stakeholders.

If the list of acceptance criteria for any user story is too big, it may be an indication that the user story is too large in scope and should probably be split further. High-quality user stories not only help project teams to clearly and precisely understand customer requirements but also make the project estimation and development process more efficient. One of the best ways to learn how to write a user story in agile is to see examples. These are a few real examples of user stories that describe the desired functionality in an early version of the Scrum Alliance website. In many contexts, user stories are used and also summarized in groups for ontological, semantic and organizational reasons.

user story

These may improve if we have a UI sketch or an elaboration of business rules that get written down. These are some of the issues that agile development teams have faced when using user stories to capture requirements. A user story is a tool in Agile software development used to capture a description of a software feature from a user’s perspective.

definition of user story

The portfolio management team creates the definition of done for themes and initiatives. In addition, there is a growing need to evaluate the product at each stage to discern whether the product meets the defined market expectations. At the feature or epic level, done means ready and shipped to the end user.


In relationship with Features, we group the related User Stories under the same Feature. If you are interested in more details about how to structure user stories, you can find more information here. They clearly state what should the developers implement and have enough details for them to be well understood. The developers should make sure that every User Story they include in the Sprint Backlog has the right size so they can deliver a potentially shippable increment at the end. If it’s not small enough, the developers should split it further until it has a proper size. To understand the real-world challenges and best practices to work under the constraints of agile teams, we spoke with hundreds of professionals with experience working in agile environments.

Once a story has been written, it’s time to integrate it into your workflow. Generally a story is written by the product owner, product manager, or program manager and submitted for review. The INVEST mnemonic is designed to make it easy to remember what effective Agile user stories look like. With that in mind, we’ve put together a short, simple description of each of the criteria and an explanation of why it matters. Don’t fight your tool—whatever term your software uses to mean small story (user story) group of stories (theme) or big story (epic)e is the term you should use.

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Therefore, it is not necessary that all user stories be broken down into smaller and refined stories with corresponding estimates and acceptance criteria right from the onset of the project. It is important, however, that at any moment in time there are enough refined stories in the backlog ready to be added to the next sprint or backlog iteration. Agile projects, especially Scrum ones, use a product backlog, which is a prioritized list of the functionality to be developed in a product or service.

definition of user story

This term was not used by the original user stories team, which has led to feature being applied to different things in different organizations and teams. DoD aids with strategic focus and direction for the entire product organization. Burndown charts can be used to visualize epics, and serve to keep teams motivated and the executive stakeholders informed. A good epic burndown chart is where the agility of the organization really shines.

What Is a Good User Story?

Stories provide just enough information for business and technical people to understand the intent. Through acceptance criteria and acceptance tests, stories get more specific, helping to ensure system quality. However, they quit the place for the stakeholders, development team, and the product owner to negotiate their details on the grounds of technical, budget constraints, and functional aspects. The focus is to meet the stakeholders’ needs, but not generating something unusable to the concept of user story if doing that it is incomplete.