Writing User Stories from Multiple Perspectives

The best way to communicate ideas in a language that anyone from stakeholder to designer to developer can understand.

Working for a big company sometimes reminds me of my high school days: you have highly overly-confident jocks working in marketing, the band geeks and drama queens working in design, and the reserved nerds in engineering. Each clique has its own dress code and way of talking.

So how do you get everyone aligned behind an idea? How do you get everyone speaking the same language?

I’ve found user stories to be the easiest way to communicate ideas in real time and asynchronously to management, techies, marketing managers, project managers, or designers.

User stories are a simple tool for communicating ideas

I’ve found user stories to be the easiest way to communicate ideas in real time and asynchronously to management, techies, marketing managers, project managers, or designers.

What are user stories? They are short, simple statements about who wants what and why, for example:

As a website visitor, I want to search for sale items so I can quickly find what I need.

User stories are generally written from the perspective of the end user (website visitor, app user, etc.). While that is great for propagating user-centered thinking, they only tell one side of the story. And that’s kind of like an uncomfortable conversation between the jock and the nerd.

User stories written from multiple perspectives helps capture the real reason why

I usually write user stories from multiple perspectives to provide a more complete picture of the task at hand.

PerspectiveReason Why
the end user / customer / personareal-world need
the company / stakeholderbusiness goal or KPI
the UX/UI practitionertestable assumption

Example:

“As a website visitor, I want to search for sale items so I can quickly find what I need.”

“As ACME Shop, we want to index sale items in the shop search so that we can increase their visibility as measured in the percentage of sale item views via search.”

“As a UX/UI practitioner, I want to help budget-minded users find sale items using search so that their expectations for search are met.”

A “story” like that helps everyone on the team know why a feature is important and how its success can be monitored – like bringing everyone, from geek to jock, together at the prom.


Published: Oct 12, 2017

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