Planning An App? User Stories Will Save You Time & Money…
All too often we encounter entrepreneurs who spend days and weeks fiddling about putting together wireframes and even full blown mockups of their desired application, only to have them stare at us like a deer in headlights when we ask them a basic User Experience question like: “How do I retrieve my password if I happen to forget it?”
Entrepreneurs Think Big
Why is this so? My best guess is that entrepreneurs tend to be “big-picture” people. Focusing on little details like forgotten passwords, isn’t necessarily their top priority.
The problems inevitably arrive later when their product enters QA, and someone tests for forgotten passwords…
Getting Startups Started Right Foot First
The good news is that avoiding these unpleasant outcomes is actually much easier than fussing about with wireframes and mockups (activities best left to professionals anyway).
All you really need to start planning your project on a solid and scalable foundation is a well thought out and detailed list of USER STORIES.
User Stories – What Are They?
One of the most useful tools we have at our disposal when planning out a new project is also one of the most simple and accessible – the User Story.
A User Story is simply a format for outlining a feature that matches the following formula:
“As a [type of user], I want [to perform some task] so that I can [achieve some goal/benefit/value]”
“As a Facebook user, I should be able to retrieve my password, so that I can access my account in case I forget it”
User Stories Keep You User Focused
The beauty of the humble User Story is that:
- Keeps you user focused – It frames the entire process of product development from a user centric perspective, and while that in itself may not be enough to guarantee your project’s success, not being customer focused will eventually doom your venture…
- It serves as a roadmap – It provides, in a succinct, logical and easily understandable format, all the most important information required to drive your product’s evolution.
How do we use it?
I reckon the best way to demonstrate the marvelously pragmatic value of User Stories, is to simply list a few examples of how we use them here every day:
- Evaluating feature priority – Ranking User Stories by importance on a scale that ranges from “Critical” to “Nice to Have” is a very easy way to identify what the Minimal Viable Product (MVP) is for any venture.
- UX / UI guidance – While working on UX / UI (user experience and user interface respectively) we refer back to a project’s User Stories regularly to confirm each is addressed in the screens we’re planning. In fact we literally check them off one by one to make sure we’ve covered all the features promised.
- QA check list – During the QA phase we again refer to the User Stories to test that the development team has actually delivered the functionality expected.
In our experience the fastest, most efficient, and simplest way to produce a specification or RFP for an app or website is to provide a well considered list of User Stories. Once you have your User Stories you’re very much in a position to have, at the very least, a fruitful, efficient and professional discussion with potential providers, partners, investors, etc. – Not too shabby for a day’s work…