From User Stories to User Experience Stories

Mike Cohn advocated writing user stories in a “As a <user> , I want <action> so that <benefit>” template because it put the system requirements in first person, thereby bringing an inherent user perspective to design and helping product owners prioritize effectively. However, the user perspective has so far not captured the user state of mind or mood resulting in terribly designed interfaces and bad user experiences.

Let us look at a couple of user stories to understand this concept.

a. As an entitled-to-support user, I want to enter my broken in-warranty hard disk details so that I can create a support ticket.

b. As a valid user, I want to like my friend’s post so that he gets fake internet karma.

For a development team, these user stories mean fields, buttons, backend, fancy CSS and that is all. But if you look closely, user in story 1 is not just an entitled-to-support user but a ‘frustrated and dejected” user whereas the user in story 2 is a ‘happy’ user.

How about rephrasing the user stories in the experience template

As a <user> , I want <action> so that <benefit> becomes As a <mood> <user> , I want <action> so that <benefit>

Since the purpose of user stories was to initiate and enable team discussions on features and not be the actual task set in stone, I strongly believe that capturing user mood in the story would enable better design discussions and even sharper prioritization.


Outline/Structure of the Talk

About me - 2 Minutes

Traditional user story template and its disadvantages - 8 mins

Other methods to write good user stories : 5 mins

Benefits of capturing user mood in the stories - 5 mins

Q and A - if time permits

Learning Outcome

Participants would be able to practice this new technique as soon as they start collaborating on a new user story. The discussions which these new user stories will start will eventually lead to better designed interfaces and a greater user experience.

Target Audience

Beginner - Anyone who is working in software development - developers, testers, product managers etc. Also, anyone who thinks user experience should be the focal point of all software development.

Prerequisites for Attendees

None that I can think of

schedule Submitted 2 months ago

Public Feedback

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  • Jeremy Kriegel
    By Jeremy Kriegel  ~  2 weeks ago
    reply Reply

    I like these aspects of the submission, and they should be retained:

    • You start with something familiar and put a different spin on it.

    I think the submission could be improved by:

    • Clarify the benefit of this approach. You say we don't do this now, but how would things improve if we did? What impact would participants expect if they were to adopt this technique? In learning outcomes, you say better designs and experiences, but how? 
    • Does this technique pair with personas or is it separate?

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