Best practice User Story Mapping

Writing good user stories and creating personas

In this section, you'll learn:

  • How to write a good user story, including clear acceptance criteria
  • What a customer persona is and why they're important to a story mapping
Product graphic of persona cards

Writing good user stories

For many software development teams striving towards agile, the idea of writing user stories can seem like another “thing” agile piles on top of their already busy workloads. We hear you, we’re busy too!

A user story helps agile software development teams capture simplified, high-level descriptions of a user’s requirements written from that end user’s perspective. A user story is not a contextless feature, written in “dev” speak.

So how do we write user stories? Better yet, how do we write good ones?

A user story, much like a persona, adds context to your work and in turn value.

The fact is, it’s easy to get buried in a contextless, feature developing cycle. The objective becomes more about clearing your way through a laundry list backlog, than it is about building solutions that add value to your customers. Your human customers. User stories bring that context and perspective into the development cycle.

Here is the equation for writing a user story:

Formula for a User Story

Writing acceptance criteria

User stories allow teams to have one hand on the needs, wants and values of their customers, and another, on the activities they need to accomplish to provide that value.

The link pairing these two things together, is acceptance criteria.

Acceptance Criteria or ‘conditions of satisfaction’, provide a detailed scope of a user’s requirements. They help the team to understand the value of the story and set expectations as to when a team should consider something done.

  • Download our guide to writing good user stories and acceptance criteria, including a user story checklist

Graphical icons of personas

The importance of customer personas to story mapping

How many times can you say you've worked on a user story without really knowing who that user is? Could you confidently share their interest, motivations, communication styles?

When building out our User Story Map we need to know and understand - 'who are our users'? By creating customer personas, we have a better idea of what our customers need or want from our product, their goals and objectives for using it and how they will engage with it.

A sharper and shared understanding of your customer across your team means you can more readily identify and prioritise what will provide most value to your customer.

In this video, Sean Blake from the Easy Agile team talks about how to build your customer persona.

Creating customer personas is a foundation for other agile practices, like user story mapping. It keeps the customer front of mind, providing a 'face' to the user story, creating buy-in and empathy.

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Easy Agile Personas

Did you know Easy Agile User Story Maps is integrated with Easy Agile Personas? If you'd truly like to bring your users into your User Story Map, why not try Easy Agile Personas for free.