Your User Stories Are Bad And You Should Feel Bad

Writing User Stories should be a walk in the park, but more often than it is more like a stab in the dark! We write stories that are too long, too short, difficult to validate or appear to be adding little value to the project. Why?

Since the explosion of Agile onto the software development scene, there is a growing interest in creating great user stories. Right now, many organizations are migrating from their old processes and moving towards agile but can not quite shake off the shackles of Big Up Front Design. We are still writing specs, albeit in pseudo-user story format.

Writing good user stories is the cornerstone of Agile software development as without good user stories we have nothing to hang out project on. User stories are used for project estimation and planning, and done properly can foster the sort of interaction between developers and users that can lead to better systems and happier customers.

So what makes a really good user story? Who should be involved in writing the user stories – and who for that matter should be kept well clear of the whole process? Is the story a suitable size? Too small and they may become dependant on one another, too large and they become difficult to squeeze into your iteration.

If you don’t know your spike from your epic, if you think INVEST is something to do with stock markets or think SMART is a type of car, then you should come along and get some practical take-home advice on how to write better stories – there’s might even be a happy ever after!