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User Stories: The hidden secret of user-centric projects

Have you ever tried to put together a jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box? It's challenging, right? In product development, user stories serve as this guiding image, providing clarity and direction. Moreover, it could help to increase innovation thinking in your team.



Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash


Firstly, what are User Stories?

User stories are brief descriptions of a feature or product from the user's perspective. They typically follow a specific format:


"As a [type of user], I want [an action] so [a benefit/a value]."

Breaking down this formula, we have three main points to develop:

  • Type of user: Our entire team should clearly understand who this person is and how they work, think and feel. The designer or researcher of the group could provide an overview of all the gathered information of our primary user. Some additional material for this could be Persona's profiles or Empathy Maps.

  • Action: That is the place to define their intent. What is the big problem that needs to be solved? The most common mistake in this point is inserting features instead of needs. You are missing the point if your statement is too technical, like describing a specific feature or implementation.

  • Benefit/Value: How does their needed action fit into the bigger picture? What benefits are they trying to achieve?

Here is a good example:

As a teenager, I want to stay connected with my friends even when I'm away so I can better build solid and lifetime relationships.

Benefits of using User Stories

This tool's main benefit is keeping the team focused on what truly matters: delivering value to the user. But it is not the only one.


The Power of Perspective

User stories are a powerful tool that focuses on the user's needs and helps product teams to stay grounded and avoid the temptation of adding features just for the sake of it. Changing the perspective from the output to the outcome promotes more innovative solutions that actually solve a real problem, not only a feature.


Accessible language

User stories bridge non-technical stakeholders (like business executives or marketers) and technical teams. Everyone can understand and engage with a user story, ensuring all parties are on the same page.

This small detail makes a huge difference for the project's collaboration. Teams can discuss, prioritize, and iterate upon these stories, creating many ideas. This collaboration often leads to unexpected and innovative solutions.


Flexibility and Adaptability

As feedback comes in or markets shift in this fast-changing world, user stories can be easily updated or reprioritized to reflect new insights, ensuring that products remain relevant and teams stay agile.


Conclusion

As someone who cares about creating user-centric, meaningful and innovative products, I genuinely believe in the power of user stories. They provide guidance through the complexities of development, reminding all the stakeholders to always put the user first. By prioritizing user needs and desires, teams can design products that are not only new but also revolutionary. It's truly amazing how much a well-crafted user story can impact the development process.

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