17 User story examples for when the ink runs dry

September 04, 2020
User story examples and best practices

Need a little help writing your user stories? Get your team on the right track with these awesome user story examples!

How do you begin designing a successful app or website that’s going to be a hit with your users? User stories are your best friend when combined with a wireframe tool!

Free design and prototyping tool for web and mobile apps

User stories help us fit our user personas into the context of the product we’re designing. While the bio of a user persona describes their life and woes, the user story describes how they use a feature of your product – in layman’s terms!

In the agile environment, Product Owners, along with UX designers, tend to write user stories on index cards to be passed around the design team and spark conversation. We might also write them up digitally, using Office or Google Docs to be included in the Scrum backlog.

The fact they are written in simple language and devoid of all technical jargon means the design team feels less restricted by technicalities. They have more opportunity to be creative with their feature design ideas. Read on for some great user story examples!

17 practical user story examples

We’ve lined up a few examples of what user stories might look like in real life.We’ve included both the traditional user story examples written on index cards or sticky notes, as well as digital user story examples that can easily be shared on an online platform.

Some even come in the form of downloadable templates such as Word and Excel files! Let’s dive in:

1. Product Plan user story example

This user story example Product Plan has five important sections. The first is the Title of the story. For this you might want to give the name of the feature that the story is going to be about, such as “book reviews”.

User story examples - Product Plan

In the Priority section, you can assign a priority from low to medium or high. It’s important to assign priorities to your backlog items as some features will be in more demand, according to your requirements traceability matrix. Next to Priority is the Estimate section. Here you can state the time you think it will take the team to deliver on this feature. Here, you might assign the relevant number of scrum points.

Next in this user story example, you have the user story section itself, and finally, the acceptance criteria. The acceptance criteria is often written on the back of the index copy, but as this is a two dimensional digital copy, the acceptance criteria is clearly written just beneath as a sort of conclusion. Some may find it extra helpful to have everything included on the same page.

2. Word Doc user story example

This downloadable user story example comes as a Word document that you can edit. In our opinion, the instructions that come after each clause in the user story, along with those for the acceptance criteria are pretty straightforward to follow.

User story examples - Word Doc

Why is it important to have these instructions in your user story template? Because if your team has gone a while without writing user stories, or you have to work on many stories, it is good to have these kinds of instructions to act as a prompt. They serve as a useful reminder of the quality of information that should go into each clause.

3. Excel user story example

What better way to group information in tables than excel? This excel user story example is also a little different in that, in addition to the usual fields, it also gives you the opportunity to fill in other important information.

User story examples - Excel

The extra fields you can find in this user story example include the user business value, risk calculation, cost of delay and weighted shortest job first. This extra information could also be useful, depending on the type of product features you are working on, or the types of clients or company that you work for.

4. Thematic user story example

This excel-based, thematic story example, you get a column for priority estimate, acceptance criteria, and also a “Release” column for a release date.

User story examples - Thematic

The columns in this user story example are well-ordered, with the themes laid out vertically and the column types horizontally. This would be a great template for an epic story that is composed of multiple sub-stories.

Free design and prototyping tool for web and mobile apps

5. Epic user story example

Speaking of epic user story examples, you might want to take a look at this epic user story template. It provides a great way of grouping substories by their epic stories.

Each epic story feature is listed vertically, with the columns being for the user, the action or want and the benefit. The last column then consists of a vertical arrangement of user stories in subrows wrapped into each cell.

User story examples - Epic

The way this epic user story is laid out, it manages to show a clear hierarchy between the epics and their multiple, detailed user stories. This makes it very easy to scan and to get a quick overview of all of the features that need to be applied or developed in order to satisfy the user.

6. PowerPoint user story example

This downloadable user story example from Powerslides shows us another neat way that we can organize our user stories. These cards can be shown in a powerpoint presentation, as well as printed out and distributed.

We also like the clear division of the most important sections: the user story and the user ID, as well as a few sections that differentiates it from other examples.

User story examples - PowerPoint

In the story section we can see the user story and the acceptance criteria. However, under the user ID section is an area where you can attach a picture of your user persona, along with some checkboxes for the type of feature it focuses on and fields for priority and time estimation.

7. Index card user story example

What we like about this good old-fashioned index card user story is the simplicity and the way it brings things back to basics. Sometimes you might need to draft up a story quickly for a product feature or a quick overview of features like an epic.

User story examples - index card

This simple and traditional user story example shows us exactly how easy it can be. The great thing about index cards is that you can also write the acceptance criteria on the back and then the user story card can be passed around the team.

8. User story front-and-back example

Here we have a traditional front-and-back user story example that reflects how one might go about writing up a user story on an index card. The story shows clearly what the user wants to achieve and why they want to achieve it.

In this case they want to cancel their reservations so as not to lose all of their money should a situation arise.

User story examples - front and back showing acceptance criteria

On the back of the card, the acceptance criteria are all listed out. It shows all of the functions of the app that need to be taken care of in order for the user’s benefits and the benefits of the business goals to be satisfactorily met.

9. Banking app user story example

This banking app user story example is a great way of explaining a required feature and why the user needs it in a succinct way.

It gets straight to the point about who the user is and what they need to accomplish. In fact, one of the things that’s great about it is that it even hints at one of the pains the user of a banking app (in this case the credit card holder) might typically feel, such as worrying about their outstanding credit card balance, keeping a good credit score and staying out of the red.

Banking app user story example

The user in this user story example wants to pay their balance, so the first thing the design team might do is start working on a solution that gives them more or less instant access to their credit card balance. Either it should be the first thing they see when they open the app or there should be a clear option to see the balance of that card that’s just a tap away.

10. Agile user story writing template

Our next user story example from Whizible is also a template you can download to give you and your team a head start.

This template lets you write a list of multiple user stories on the same card. The horizontal columns at the top display the formulaic sentence of the typical user story, meaning the blanks just need to be filled in.

User story examples - agile template from Whizible

This can definitely save time when writing out multiple user stories and can help you get straight to the point. For example, at a glance we can glean from this user story example that the content manager has the following story:

“As a content manager, I want to get a weekly report of content analytics so I can monitor the effectiveness of the content writer.”

11. Amazon user story example

We picked out this Amazon user story example because it gives us an insight into the type of story expected in an agile environment in a large multinational tech company. The interesting thing is, it’s really straightforward. There’s no technical jargon and anyone from any discipline can understand it, which is what user stories are all about.

Amazom user story example

In this example, the user is registered with them and wants to buy a kindle for their friend. One of the ways the team might respond to this story, depending on who their user persona is, might be to include a gift section on the home screen. It might say something like “The perfect birthday gift”. On the other hand, they might choose to display a message that tells the user they can instantly send gifts as they browse items like the kindle.

Another action they might want to follow up on is to ensure that the customer can add new addresses or choose their current address list swiftly and easily. If you use Amazon you’ll see that this is actually the case!

Free design and prototyping tool for web and mobile apps

12. Backlog of user stories example

In this example, we get a view of what it looks like to see the user stories listed out in a backlog in an agile product development environment.

User story examples - backlog list

As we can see here, the backlog items are grouped into order of priority and the tasks are represented with user stories. In each user story, we can note the different scrum points awarded to indicate how much work will be involved when it comes to each feature.

13. BBC Sport user story example

We like this simple user story example from BBC Sport. What we like about it is the fact that it’s actually conveying a lot of information in just a few words, which is exactly what a good user story is supposed to do.

BBC Sport user story example

In this example, the BBC were thinking of adding a share button to their sports articles, with the idea that readers can share sports related news and also get their friend’s opinions. It’s complete, conveys a lot of information and the logic is simple. It definitely justifies the need for a share button and points at someone having done quite a bit of research into their user base prior to penning this user story.

14. Easy Agile Workshop user story example

This user story example from Easy Agile is a little different. Firstly, we noticed that it’s remarkably easy on the eyes.

For starters, each row is alternated between color and white, to easily separate the concepts and facilitate scanning. The left and right sections of the card, i.e. the instructions and the sentence formula are color-coded green and blue.

User story examples - Easy Agile Workshop template

Next, the instructions on the left of this user story example help serve as a useful prompt with the “Who”, “What” and “Why” categories. They help us think of the story from the business angle, such as “Who are we building it for?”, “Who is the user?” and “What is the intention?” If this example were to be duplicated, it would be incredibly useful and serve as an easy prompt to get started writing user stories.

15. Travel website user story examples

Here are some user story examples from a travel website. We’re treated to four different stories that give us a glimpse into the various features they might develop to help their user personas achieve their goals.

However, one problem that we see is that three out of the four are incorrect. Well not so much incorrect but rather, incomplete. Why? Because user stories should always state the reason for “why” they want to complete an action.

4 travel website user story examples

The feature should always provide some benefit to the user. This helps your team give priority to specific features that are going to provide real value and meaning to your users. And happy users means a successful product and a happy business.

The first example talks about hotel reservations. A better more complete version might state:

As a user, I want to reserve a hotel room close to the city center, so I don’t have to travel far every day.

It’s unlikely the user doesn’t have a specific location in mind for the hotel, whether they realize it or not. Adding the “why” part helps you come up with more creative solutions that might help the user, such as showing them hotels, based on their budget that are closer to the city center or to the airport. This might prevent the user having to leave the page and search the hotel addresses on Google maps and checking out distances. Otherwise, it might as well just be any other travel website that doesn’t provide a distinctly useful feature to the user.

The last user story example, however, is complete and useful to the design team; it shows exactly what the user wants – to be able to save past bookings and prevent extra data entry effort. It can also help come up with a better and more rigid acceptance criteria.

16. Agile USA user story example

Agile USA, with their sticky note user story example for an account manager, succinctly summarizes what should go into this type of deliverable.

This is a rather simple example that shows how vital information to guide the design and development team can easily be summarized on a simple sticky note. What we like about this kind of example is that it’s unintimidating and easily understandable by anyone.

Agile USA user story example

It lets you follow a simple formula for writing them up, which is necessary for when it comes to creativity, especially when you’re required to crank out story after story of product features on story-writing day.

Free design and prototyping tool for web and mobile apps

17. Introspective user story example

We decided to include this user story example by Alexander Cowan because it clearly reflects the degree of thought that goes into creating even the most basic user story.

User story writing is not just about coming up with a hypothetical situation involving a hypothetical user. Instead, the information should be based on real research and user personas. This user story example helps us draw on that information by reminding us of the basics of why we’re writing that story in the first place.

User story examples - instrospective template with question prompts

The prompts in this example are great for helping you come up with a user story that reflects the user persona that you and your team will have invested effort in creating. What we also like about this user persona example is the fact that the prompts also help lead into the acceptance criteria by asking “how will we know if it’s working?”.

The takeaway - user story examples

The right medium for your user story and the right information to include in it will depend on your organization, the size and scale of your project and the complexity of the features that you’re designing.

Whatever way you choose to convey your user story, the most important thing to bear in mind is research. Once you have done adequate user research and defined your persona profiles, then you’re ready to write up your user stories.

By following the best practices stated in this post and taking inspiration from (or even downloading) the examples and templates shown, you should be well on your way to writing an excellent user story.

Joseph Downs
In-house UX copy-slinger, foodie and classic motoring enthusiast