User Stories Are The Key to Building More Valuable Products for Your Customers

You can’t deliver the best product experience without putting the customer first. User stories help teams understand how to build a better product by putting themselves in the customer’s shoes.

Building a product that retains users starts by understanding their needs. If not, you’ll just have a product with plenty of fancy features but doesn't really solve the challenges of your user.

How can product managers better understand the product experience from the user’s perspective and build the right features that make an impact? The answer is simple: writing user stories.

Creating user stories is an essential part of the product development process. It allows product managers to understand their target users better, identify which features to build, and create a product that stands out from the competition.

What Are User Stories?

User stories are short sentences that describe the product experience from the perspective of someone using your product. They allow product managers to communicate high-level concepts about a product and how users will react to a new upcoming feature or release.

User stories should always be straight to the point and not too complex. Product teams typically use the following format to write their user stories in the roadmap:

“As a [type of user], I want [some goal] so that [some reason].”

This format outlines key information about your user, what they want, and the impact on their product experience. From there, you can identify features and project specifications you can implement to your product and meet the user’s expectations.

Another benefit of writing user stories is that they improve collaboration across different team departments: marketing, sales, support, etc. It aligns everyone with shared goals and communicates the challenges you’re overcoming to each team member without being too technical.

Read More: What Are User Stories & How Do They Help Your Team?

Examples of User Stories

User stories can differ based on where the customer is at in their buyer journey or product experience. Here are examples of user stories if you’re selling a grammar checking product like Grammarly:

Discovery Phase:

At this early point of the user’s journey, your user is doing research online to identify a solution to a challenge they frequently experience:

“As a content writer, I want to effectively review my articles for any grammar issues and know my content is ready for publishing.”

Consideration Phase:

During the consideration phase, the user has identified various platforms that could potentially solve their struggles and is currently comparing how each one holds up to the others:

“As a content writer, aside from checking grammar, I also want to understand why my grammar mistakes are wrong, so I don’t repeat them in my future writing.”

Decision Phase:

The user is close to choosing your platform, but they may have a couple of objections before they actually purchase your membership:

“As a content writer, I want to first go through a free, beta version of the grammar tool for one of my articles to confirm that the solution I’m considering has the tools I’m looking for."

Retention Phase:

To keep users in the long-term, you must continually optimize the product experience with new updates, features, and resources, so the customer always comes back for more:

“As a content writer, I want to receive resources with tips to improve my writing throughout my product experience and better engage my readers.”

Read More: A Simple User Story Template and How to Use It

User Story vs. Requirements: What’s the Difference?

Product managers often confuse user stories with requirements, which are not the same thing. Here’s how both differ from each other:

User Stories:

User stories focus on the product experience and how you envision users interacting with your various features or updates.

  • What’s the Goal?
    • The goal of user stories is to explain and understand your customers’ goals, expectations, and needs when they’re using your product. That way, you can come up with features or update ideas to satisfy them.
  • Who’s in Charge of Writing It?
    • Members across different teams will be in charge of writing user stories. For example, include development, marketing, customer support, and sales.
  • When Are They Created?
    • Stories are created at the start of each product or feature project. Teams usually write user stories during workshops they organize with different departments to provide their feedback.

Product Requirements:

Product requirements, on the other hand, are far more technical and focus more on the functionality behind each user story.

  • What’s the Goal?
    • The goal of product requirements is to cover all the technical necessities to make a user story function. It helps developers and engineers decide whether or not a user story is feasible.
  • Who’s in Charge of Writing It?
    • Developers and engineers write it since requirements need more technical expertise.
  • When Are They Created?
    • Product requirements are written after creating the user stories and during the brainstorming workshop with your team.

Read More: User Stories vs. Requirements: Understand the Difference

7 Steps to Writing Compelling User Stories

Various steps go into creating effective user stories that lead the product development process. These include:

  1. Create Your Buyer Persona: Creating effective user stories starts by understanding your user. Identify who your target audience is, their needs, expectations, and how your product solves their challenges.
  2. Keep User Stories Simple: User stories should never be more than two sentences long. Also, avoid using any complex terms that could confuse people on your team.
  3. Include Acceptance Criteria for Each Story: Define the conditions required to complete a user story so it can work. That way, it makes each of your user stories testable for developers.
  4. Make the User Story Process Collaborative: Creating your user stories requires the feedback of various team departments such as developers, product owners, marketers, and researchers. It helps generate more ideas and understand the user experience from different perspectives.
  5. Drive User Stories Into Group Activities: To better organize yourself, divide your different user stories into different group activities based on which stage the user is at in their product journey.
  6. Make User Stories Visible to Everyone With Technology: There are many user story mapping online tools you can use to keep all of your user stories in one place. The best tools we recommend are StoriesOnBoard, CardBoard, Miro, and FeatureMap.
  7. Update User Stories Regularly: Make sure to update your user stories as your priorities change. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your own users’ feedback on your stories to determine if they’re accurate.

Read More: How to Write User Stories to Guide Your Product Development Process

Optimize the Product Experience with User Stories

Once you write your user stories, use them to find inspiration for new features and updates to build within your product. Over time, you’ll see an increase in user engagement and retention.

If user stories aren’t part of your product development process, you’re likely missing a key piece of the product management puzle. User stories put the user’s needs first, improve team collaboration, and help build a product that retains customers.