User Stories | Examples, Template, and Complete Guide

What are user stories? What are some user stories examples? Do you have a user stories template?

I’ve seen these questions floating around the internet, and I haven’t seen a very comprehensive article on the topic, so I decided it was about time to create this all-encompassing guide to help you out.

What Are User Stories?

User Story Definition

User stories are short, one-sentence descriptions of features for your product that are told from the perspective of the user or customer.

User Stories Template

In this section, we talk about how you can write user stories and how epics are related to them.

How to Write User Stories

In this section, we talk about how you can write user stories and how epics are related to them.

As a [user type], I want to [user’s goal] so that [value to user].

Let’s break down this structure into 3 parts:

  1. As a [user type]: in this first part, you want to write the user story from the user’s perspective. But to do this, you need to know who your users are, their points, what they value, and what they want to accomplish. You’ll want to work with your UX designer or UX researcher to get the personas that describe your users.
  2. I want to [user’s goal]: in this second part (that’s still in the user’s voice), you want to write the task or goal the user is trying to accomplish. Remember, these goals aren’t the feature you might be trying to create. This is what the user wants to achieve.
  3. So that [value to user]: in this third part, you want to write the reason for the user trying to do their goal. What value do they get from the task? What’s the overall benefit? Again, you want this to be from the user’s perspective.

We’ll go into more detailed examples in the what user stories examples section, but here are a few to help you put these 3 sections together:

  • As a student, I want to see all my textbooks in one place online so that I can study wherever I go.
  • As a developer, I want to see recent revisions of code so that I can quickly revert in case someone makes a mistake.
  • As a user, I want to mark my emails as “read” in bulk so that I don’t have to take the time to do it individually with each email.

If you’re at this point, you might be asking, “How much granularity do I need to go into with these user stories?”

Generally speaking, you want to make them as small as possible in terms of the goal the user is trying to complete.

You can then list what features need to be created (tasks), who needs to do what, questions the team has, and more within each user story in order to mark it as complete.

Now then…you have these user stories that are small goals the user wants want to do, but how do you describe their bigger goals?

We call those epics.

What are epics and how do they tie in with user stories?

Epics are the bigger tasks users are trying to accomplish. They’re made up of multiple user stories, ranging from a handful to hundreds of user stories.

Think of them as the bigger picture.

The user stories that make up the epic are the smaller objectives the user needs to complete in order to accomplish the larger goal at hand.

Here are a few epics examples with one of the possible user stories to go along with it:

  • As a student, I want to have my class resources online so that I’m always able to study no matter where I am or when I need it.
    • As a student, I want to see all my textbooks in one place online so that I can study wherever I go.
  • As a developer, I want to be able to share code with other developers so that I can collaborate on complex projects.
    • As a developer, I want to see recent revisions of code so that I can quickly revert in case someone makes a mistake.
  • As a user, I want to organize my emails so that I can quickly find the ones I want later on
    • As a user, I want to mark my emails as “read” in bulk so that I don’t have to take the time to do it individually with each email.

We’ve now covered what are user stories and the user stories template. Let’s go over a user stories example in more detail through a scenario.

User Stories vs Tasks

You might be wondering what the difference is between user stories vs tasks.

You need to remember that user stories are tasks the user wants to accomplish, not the tasks that the developers need to accomplish.

Let me give you an example.

You might have a user story that looks like this:

  • As a student, I want to see all my textbooks in one place online so that I can study wherever I go.

Some of the (development) tasks associated with it might include these:

  • Design the dashboard page
  • Design SVG icons and images
  • Create SQL scripts to create the tables.
  • Create SQL scripts for the stored procedures.
  • And so on

User Stories Examples

Free Persona Template Product Image-min

In this example, let’s say we’re designing a job-searching website. 

Sarah Xavier is a persona we’ve created who represents a large segment of our users.

Based on what we know about Sarah wanting a job at a newspaper company, we’ve created these epics and user stories.

  • Epic 1: As Sarah, I want to search for companies that are hiring people like me so that I can increase my chances of getting a job.
    • User Story: As Sarah, I want to find results on specific companies so that I know if they’re hiring.
    • User Story: As Sarah, I want to see the location of a job posting so I know if it’s within my preferences.
    • User Story: As Sarah, I want to see the description of a job so I know what the company is looking for.
    • User Story: As Sarah, I want to filter jobs by date posted so that I know if I was an early applicant.
    • User Story: As Sarah, I want to filter by experience level so that I know if I’m qualified for the job.
    • Etc.

  • Epic 2: As Sarah, I want to know when there are new job openings so that I can be one of the first to apply and interview.
    • User Story: As Sarah, I want to receive a notification on my phone when there’s a new job opening from a specific company so that I can quickly apply.
    • User Story: As Sarah, I want to receive an SMS on my phone when there’s a new job opening from a specific company so that I can quickly apply.
    • User Story: As Sarah, I want to receive an email on my phone when there’s a new job opening from a specific company so that I can quickly apply.
    • Etc.

  • Epic 3: As Sarah, I want to apply for jobs so that I can make a living and do what I love.
    • User Story: As Sarah, I want to be able to attach my resume to an application so that employers can see my qualifications.
    • User Story: As Sarah, I want to provide my phone number in an application so that employers can contact me.
    • User Story: As Sarah, I want to provide my email address in an application so that employers can contact me.
    • Etc.

Hopefully, you have a good enough understanding from these epic and user stories examples to create your own.

But why should you make user stories? Why take the time to write them out?

What’s the Value of User Stories?

When you’re dealing with large and complex products, it’s easy to miss what exact features need to be created.

That’s where user stories come into play. User stories help you break down large and sometimes nebulous tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks.

You can now find features and functionality you would have otherwise forgotten to include.

Another value in user stories is that you’re mapping out what needs to be done. This helps you and your team later on when sizing how much work there will be.

So when your stakeholder or boss says you need this to be done “soon,” you can show them in detail that it’s a lot more work than they think and you can give a proper timeline.

And let’s not forget, user stories help you see the product through your users’ eyes. Remember, this product is not made for you and what you think users want without any evidence. 

Your product is made for your users and what they need.

User Stories in Agile

On agile scrum teams, the job of writing user stories normally lies with the product owner, or PO.

The product owner writes the user stories and places them in the product backlog, the stories are refined during the backlog refinement, and user stories are added to the sprint during sprint planning.

User stories also help the team estimate how many hours are required to finish work in a burndown chart, which is a graphical representation of how much work there is left to do versus the time it will take to do it.

This article isn’t really on agile or scrum, so I won’t go into too much detail on these topics.

That being said, every team member is usually involved in user stories and epics in one way or another in agile teams. It’s how the team knows what’s to come in the product’s development timeline.

When Should You Write User Stories?

When in an agile scrum team, user stories are created and refined before any developer develops it.

As mentioned in the previous section, the user story is created, refined in the backlog, then added to the sprint during sprint planning.

However, user stories aren’t limited to the agile scrum process.

I’ve seen UX design freelancers make the process their own by creating epics and user stories for their own design needs. User stories, UX, and agile aren’t tied 

The point is to know if they provide enough value in order to use them for your project.

A good heuristic is this: if your project is complicated, requires a lot of features, or will require a lot of time, it may make sense for you to use user stories.

If your project is simple, user stories may not be necessary. The point of user stories is to distill down long or complicated tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces. So if you don’t have anything complicated, then there’s no need for this methodology.

If you find that there is in fact enough value in doing user stories, you should first make sure there’s enough research and data on your users to write user stories. 

This is because your user stories are based on your user’s perspective. If no one on your team has actually talked to users or done any sort of research with them, then your user stories won’t be based on your user’s perspective, but rather your own.

If you have a UX designer on your team, they will probably have this research already done.

User Stories Tools

If you’re writing epics and user stories, you might want to start with a pen and post-its.

You can write epics on a single color of post-its and then user stories underneath them in another color.

If you’re making user stories online, here are two tools I’ve worked with:

However, you’re not limited to these tools. You can even use digital spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to make them.

Did I Miss Anything?

As with anything, my blog post here is always in the process of being improved. That’s why I’d like to know if I missed anything.

Do you still have questions on anything above? Did something not make sense?

Please let me know down below in the comments.

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Ophelia Sayres Nadia
Ophelia Sayres Nadia
12 days ago

Everything is very open with a clear description of the challenges. It was really informative. Your website is very useful. Thank you for sharing.

Layla Josh Hervey
Layla Josh Hervey
11 days ago

Utterly well-written content, thank you.

Kirsten Harris Pheni
Kirsten Harris Pheni
11 days ago

There is certainly a great deal to find out about this topic. I really like all the points you have made.

Iolande Derron Groot
Iolande Derron Groot
9 days ago

Really appreciate you sharing this article post. Really looking forward to reading more. Keep writing.

Lynnette Hewe Alaric
Lynnette Hewe Alaric
9 days ago

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sikis izle
sikis izle
9 days ago

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