From User Stories to… Stories

Two things:

  • I’ve heard it said the only other industry with “users” is the drugs industry
  • Kathy Sierra says we should make people feel like they kick ass

So, here’s an idea for you Agile Development junkies. Let’s junk User Stories and just write Stories.

What’s a Story? Look back at a User Story:

As a thing I want to thing so that thing

Snore. Upping the excitement levels a bit, a Story is:

You won’t believe it. I was on thing and I started to thing then amazingly, I thinged!

By way of example… “You won’t believe it. I was on Vimeo and I started to upload a video then amazingly, I got this awesome progress tracker!”

In other words, a Story is a narrative someone is telling someone else about their experience on your website. Should make planning more fun.


  1. Posted March 18, 2009 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Interesting. Particularly since, given the author’s (well, it’s almost a narrative)state of mind you might end up seeing a theme.

    Eg. You won’t believe it. I was on WordPress for iPhone and I started to write a post about the market for lemons then amazingly, I deleted it, without notification of the fact I was going to lose upward of an hours work!

    Which, annoying, happened to me on the train this morning.

  2. Posted March 18, 2009 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Frankly, to me that sounds like it’s just adding more noise, possibly even uncertainty/ambiguity…

  3. Posted March 19, 2009 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    I quite like the idea, and I’m sure Ms Sierra* would too. Very customer centric. In the harsh enterprise reality however, it might be hard to make things exciting:

    “You won’t believe it. I was using a cloud interface and I started to upload a kernel image then amazingly, I started this linux instance!”

    Fucking amazing, yeah.

    *Is that her porn name?

  4. Posted April 12, 2009 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Excellent point. This is related to methodologies in hci like rich user scenarios and contextual analyses, which are antecedents to the more bland variety of story practiced in modern software design.

    @fnd it might be argued they add noise to some tasks such as coding against the stories (I say *might*), but when it comes to high level user centered design, it’s vital to bring out the human elements – personalities, motivations, emotions, you name it!

    Visualising these things guides the design in the right direction and can also be viewed as a form of risk mitigation strategy (to turn a visceral topic into a rather dryer one!). By that, I mean they can expose flaws in a candidate design you’re working on.