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Agile User Story Principles and its Benefits | The Complete Guide

Navdeep Singh Gill | 09 February 2023

Agile User Story Principles and its Benefits

What is User Story?

User Story is the High-level definition of the requirement of project demands that involves enough information that the developer has to give an estimate of the effort required to implement it. User Story is one of the artifacts for Scrum Project Teams Sometimes also called a description of a feature, In Agile Development, we define user story as per the priority of the feature moved to a particular sprint or iteration. Sprint can be of 1 week or 2 weeks. It's better not to make a sprint for more than two weeks. The vision behind User Story creation is Aligning Goals & Constraints.

An iterative approach to create high value for the user, based on feedback and change. Click to explore about, Agile Thinking Benefits

 Key principles of Agile User Story?

Agile Development is one of the buzzwords for the software development industry. The exciting thing is knowing precisely what Agile Development is. The answer for this is as follows; It's a different way of managing software development projects that empower teams to make decisions, software delivered in small iterations. An agile user story involves high priority to Customer participation from the beginning of the development cycle so that the Product can be developed as per client requirements, and the Team goal is to deliver a product that is happy with at the end. Agile manifesto in brief

  • Respond to change
  • Working Product
  • Great Team
  • Delight the customer

What are the 3 C's in user stories?

The three C's of a user story are listed below:


The user story card contains a concise description of the functionality of the particular feature.


It happens Just in Time when Team does a discussion about the Story to get more details.


Test efforts that confirm a story's completion, which involves the actual definition of "Done."
A process to check the system accepts the requirements of a user or not. Click to explore about, User Acceptance Testing

When are Agile User Stories Written?

User stories are written throughout the project. While planning product backlog, the Development team participates and describes the functionality to be added during the 3 to 6 months cycle. One of the features is listed in the form of a card. The Team includes developers, Product managers, Testers, and Interaction Designers. The Team writes the features instead of the customer because the team betters express the features and prioritize them, which can be released earlier. Mostly stories are prioritized on their value to the organization. Accordingly, the release is planned after every short interval of time. If one of Story does not get fit in iteration, the best way to split it into smaller stories; Team should follow Test-driven development approach, and that must be part of user story creation.

User Story - Key Takeaway/ Facts

  • User Stories are not a specific task; they are always short descriptions of any independent product feature.
  • It doesn't tell the developer how the feature works.
  • It is not the final word in Development, as agile Development says welcome change during Development.
  • User Stories don't need to be independent, they can be a combination of 2 or more features if feasible in one sprint.
  • User Stories neither have a specific format nor rules for writing them
  • Also, User Story is not shared with the customer sometimes.

User story checklist

  • It must Be as short as much as possible.
  • It should be Simple and easily understandable to the customer or end user.
  • User Story Written as per users perspective.
  • The Story must be created with agenda, i.e., What's the reason behind a particular Story? i.e., the Value benefit of the Story must be cleared.
  • It must derive one of the functionalities if it's larger and break it into small parts.
  • Always follow Acceptance criteria.

Acceptance Criteria

Acceptance criteria define two things at the start of development test cases must be written first, and while closing any task, it should satisfy what's the definition of done demands. Acceptance criteria denote the conditions of satisfaction for the end user It helps the Team understand the value of a story and set the expectation accordingly. It varies as per project and ends user demands.
A type of testing in which individual units or functions of software testing. Click to explore about, Unit Testing Techniques

Acceptance Criteria Goals

  • First of all, the Team should be clarified before starting Development on any task.
  • We must ensure Team has a common understanding of the problem as well.
  • Team members must know the deadline or when the Story is to get completed.
  • The Team must verify a story via an automated Test.

Acceptance criteria should include

  • Functional and Nonfunctional Use case
  • Best practices, Guidelines, and Performance concern
  • What a particular feature intends to do
  • End-to-end flow
  • User story impact on other features
  • UI/ UX concerns must be kept in mind

Acceptance criteria should not include

It's already conveyed that the Team must have a clear understanding of what's the definition of a done, i.e. unit/integrated tested, ready for acceptance test, deployed on the demo server, and releasable. So acceptance criteria don't include the following things -
  • Non-blocker or major issues
  • The code review was done
  • Performance testing performed
  • Acceptance and functional testing done
A process to identify bugs and errors during software development and increase the quality of the product. Click to explore about, Test Driven Development

How to create an agile User Story?

The Acceptance Test Provides essential criteria that can be used to determine if the Story is fully implemented or not. The steps to create agile user story facts are listed below:

Writing Stories

The first step is writing the User story; first of all, we should know what the characteristics of a good user story are, As there are no hard code rules for writing a user story.

Independent: User Stories should be separate as much as possible. Otherwise, it becomes difficult to prioritize the Story and give an estimation as well. If a customer wants one of the features to get implemented on high priority but that is dependent on a low-priority feature, so becomes much more complicated.

Negotiable: Requirements can't be drafted in the form of a user story, and a User story includes a short description of functionality, which can be negotiable at the time of the conversation between the client and the development team.

Estimable: It's essential to give a rough estimation, at least for the user story assigned If developers say it can't be estimated then it involves the following reason -

  • Developers lack domain and technical knowledge.
  • The Story is too big.

Small: A user story must be as small as much as possible. We should break more considerable functionality into small chunks that become easy to estimate, prioritize and execute as well.

Testable The Story must be written in such a way that successfully passes through tests. Here involves the definition of the done concept.

Gathering User story

It's not possible to convert the requirement of the project into small stories, and Stories keeps on evolving throughout the project, So we need a set of practices or techniques to gather user story that can be used iteratively. Guidelines for good user story
  • Start with Goal Stories
  • Slice the Cake
  • Put Constraints on Cards
  • Write for One User
  • Don't Number Story Cards
  • Don't Forget the Purpose

Estimating and Planning

Estimation should be under the team's hands, and they must give a rough estimate for their user story.

Planning a release set

First of all, it must be known when the customer would like to release, accordingly prioritize the user story, and put them in the iteration. So, Stories are prioritized by the customer but with input from the developers. There are many ways to prioritize in the form of first, second, third, or Highest, high, and medium, but the best way is to put numbers.

Planning an iteration

It's to be done by the Team, and Team discusses each Story as per feature prioritized by the customer, accordingly divides among Team, and gets the iteration started. Each developer from the team accept responsibility for each task There are no hard rules for particular task range can be 3 to 5 hrs or 1 to 2 days as well, but better to spit into a checklist.

Measuring and monitoring Velocity

Estimation is mandatory to analyze the Velocity of task completion. Also, another way is to graph the stats in the form of estimated time and actually spent time.
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Design Thinking for an Agile User Story

Design Thinking revolves around three buzz words, i.e., When, How. What is Design Thinking? It's an approach to solving design problems by understanding users' needs and developing insights to address them. When Design Thing? Developing and deploying a solution to a problem How design thinking? Understand, Observe, Synthesize, Ideate, prototype, and Iterate.
  • Understand the necessary knowledge so that the right question can be asked
  • Gain Empathy with your target user by talking to and observing them
  • Synthesize means coming up with a point of view statement that will inform your prototyping
  • Ideate means, based on your point of view, generate many ideas as possible
  • Prototype means making your ideas real and learning from people's reactions to your prototype.
  • Iterate means revisiting your assumptions.
The problem is How we can connect design thinking with Agile Development? The solution for this is User Story Mapping.

User Story Mapping

It connects as a bridge between design thinking and agile Development and generates business value. Here comes How business values get generated; there are numerous reasons for that, some of them are as follows -
  • Among Team members, we create shared understanding, whether it's design, engineering, product management, sales, or marketing.
  • Teams themselves prioritize their most important work
  • We can have a Visual representation of Product work
  • Helps in generating user story
  • Assists the Team to enforce their focus back and forth between the mission statement and the individual user stories; we can iteratively improve both in the process

Best Practices for Design Thinking and Agile User Thinking

The Best Practices for design thinking and agile user thinking are listed below:

We should Invest in User Research

Before starting anything first, it must be enforced do research, must involve the entire Team to understand the end user. If research has already happened, then start with testing some ideas. This helps the Team to discover new problems that need to be solved and come out with a solution.

The problem statement must be defined clearly

Design Thinking should be part of Sprint 0, which allows the Team to understand the problem statement in deep and create a robust solution.

Build a productive team culture

Delimit the team size and make a core team that includes a graphics designer, scrum master, developer, QA, and UX researcher. We should create a culture that promotes collaboration across departments that facilitates innovation, excellent ideas, and a successful design solution.

Optimal Use of Design Thinking

At the first stage of project development or whenever a vital feature has to be developed, we should use design thinking. The feature requires innovation.

Design Patterns

It helps reduce design and development times, and Design pattern works as building blocks allowing teams to eliminate lower-level design decisions.

Periodic Testing

Testing must be enforced either once a week or once during the sprint. What the schedule is planned, you should test before the design gets mature and Code gets finished.
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Benefits of Agile User Stories in Design and Development

There are several advantages of using user stories in the design and development cycles -
  • It becomes simple and easy to understand
  • Allows the developer to implement user value
  • Allows the project to be chunked into smaller pieces of features.
  • Facilitates cooperative working with clients and users.

Ready and done? What's the big difference?

Definition of Ready

  • The user Story has been defined along with acceptance criteria, and Product Owner has approved the Story.
  • The Story must include either documentation or description or use case.
  • The Story has been sized feasible as per the 2 weekly plan.

Definition of Done

  • Unit test cases are written and pass when run
  • Code commenting has been done
  • Peer review, i.e., followed by best practices
  • Tested by QA or functionality of modules has been tested by automation framework
  • No Outstanding Bugs are there.
  • Documentation was also accomplished for the module defined in the user story.
In a Nutshell, it includes Code that meets the standard, Tests achieved by the level of quality. Each Story meets acceptance criteria, and Documentation is completed and approved.
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An Agile User Story Approach

For Product or project design, the User Story is fundamental that helps us to understand the purpose behind any work. When Design Thinking and Agile methodology combine, it results in innovation, productivity, and profits. A combination of both is powerful and result-oriented if followed with best practices. To know more about Agile Methodology, we advise taking the following steps -