Agile User Stories

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Notes from the excellent book User Stories Applied [1] ISBN 0321205685

Writing User Stories

Good stories : INVEST

  • Independent
  • Negotiable
  • Valuable to users
  • Estimable
  • Small
  • Testable


  1. Combine stories
  2. Split in a different way
  3. 2 Estimates - one before and one after dependent story


  • Short description - details negotiable
  • Important details annotated
    • include undecided info as a prompt to resume discussion
  • Avoid excessive detail - consider separate card - details become tests
  • User stories for all stakeholders
    • Avoid developer stories - reword in user context with user value
  • Avoid user interface/assumptions/technology



  • lack of domain knowledge
    • discuss until general understanding reached
  • lack of technical knowledge
    • run technical spike - time box - experiment to learn enough to be able to estimate
  • story too big

Types of user stories


Big picture


  • Description for planning - card
  • Conversations for gasthering detail - conversation
  • Tests determine when complete - confirmation

Should be written in business language - domain


  1. How desirable to all users
  2. How desirable to subset of users
  3. Cohesiveness to other stories
  4. Cost

Adjust requested by developers

  1. Technical risk
  2. Complementary to other stories

Acceptance tests

Tests documented as soon as possible

User Stories

  • Emphasis the verbal
  • Comprehensible by the user + dev
  • sized for planning
  • supports iterative development
  • defers detail until it is required
  • something the user would do in a single sitting

Stories are epics until prioritised

  • Differed stories
  • Iteratively refined