What Is a User Story & How to Create One

Posted on September 8, 2023 | Updated on September 8, 2023

Businesses often talk about buyer personas and their target audiences, but there is a place for creating user stories and utilizing them for various development processes. Honing in on the details of what drives users helps create a clearer message that resonates. What is a user story?

User stories don’t have to be novels. They are short descriptions of how a user might interact with a product or feature. Most companies use a script to write their user stories, which we’ll include below. Your brand needs multiple stories to cover different products and different features of each one. 

When you apply a user story to product development, you’ll receive fewer support calls and greater customer satisfaction. Your marketing will be more effective, meaning you spend less money on advertising but get greater results. Follow the steps below to create and implement user stories into your business processes. 

1. Know Your Users

According to The Population Project, the current global population is approximately 8.048 billion people. The good news is that you don’t have to cater to each individual. Most people fall within types of users and you can speak to each group and still reach them on an emotional level.

For example, if you sell children’s pajamas, your user is likely a parent or other relative of the child. Their concerns may be more than just how cute the PJs are. They may worry about fire safety rating, if the outfit is warm enough, type of material used and a host of other things. 

Start by looking at any feedback you’ve received from customers. What are they writing in reviews? Have they called to complain about anything? Gather up all the information you have about your audience.

Really dig down into your current customer base. Survey them to find out what they care most about and how you can meet their needs. The more you know, the better you can create a user story and make a product that meets their needs while giving them the information they most need to use the item effectively. 

2. Break Down the Benefits

What is a user story without considering the benefits to your customers? Start by considering your audience’s pain points. What do they care most about? What emotions drive their concerns? For the pajamas example, fear of a child getting hurt or being uncomfortable might drive their buying behavior and use of the product. Someone with a child with sensory needs might care about the material used or if it is soft enough. 

Once you have an idea of the pain points, it’s much easier to hone in on the benefits your product currently provides or should provide. You may need to add some features if you aren’t meeting user needs.

3. What Is a User Story Without a Script?

Many companies save time by following a general prompt to write their user stories. It goes something like this:

As a [fill in who your user is/type], I want to [add an action] so [the benefit they get from the product or feature].

So, in practice, one of your user stories might go like this:

As the parent of an autistic child, I want to put pajamas on them so they aren’t uncomfortable while sleeping.

You can get as specific or general as you want, but the more you can hone in on the benefits and needs, the better your user story will be. 

4. Collaborate With Stakeholders

The user story only works if it aligns with the values of all the stakeholders involved with the product. Get feedback from leaders in the company, customers and any investors. The user story applies to more than just the person buying the item. 

What is a user story without input from all these people? You must gather details from everyone via surveys and by paying attention to the ways various factions use the item. You may need to tweak your story to include more than one user type. 

5. Focus on the Unique Value Proposition (UVP)

When building your user story, consider how the customer’s needs align with the UVP of your product. Going back to the pajamas example, let’s look at how this might work for product development and marketing. 

Research shows your target audience wants a soft material in children’s pajamas. You also know that a percentage of your audience is conscious of the environmental impact of producing new textiles.

You might choose bamboo materials because they are more sustainable, renewable and the result is butter soft material. Your user story would change the material you use for your pajamas but you’d also focus on the benefits of bamboo pajamas in your marketing materials. 

6. Rinse & Repeat

Once you have some user stories in place and you’ve applied them to product development and marketing, you should look at outliers. What customer base have you not yet served but is a possible demographic? Spend time creating a story for each type of client and seeing how well your service or product fits their needs and narrative. 

What Is a User Story’s Worth to Your Business?

User stories help build your company over time. Your messaging will become clearer and you’ll know which things to focus on and what you should develop next to keep your audience happy and coming back for more. 

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About The Author

Coraline (Cora) Steiner is the Senior Editor of Designerly Magazine, as well as a freelance developer. Coraline particularly enjoys discussing the tech side of design, including IoT and web hosting topics. In her free time, Coraline enjoys creating digital art and is an amateur photographer.

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