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A way of articulating user needs, written in first person, so that design can begin (from the Agile software development methodology).


  • A resource that helps designers and user acceptance testers ensure that the new product, service, website or software has all the required features to meet user needs.
  • A resource that helps scrum masters (another Agile term) and product managers plan feature backlogs and design sprints.
  • A resource that helps designers and software engineers to understand the needs of the user, even if they haven’t personally participated in user research.

Use when

  • You’re building a backlog or planning a detailed design program of work.

User stories are not

  • Technical requirements – Technical requirements are irrelevant or invisible to the user but still critical requirements for a successful user experience.


Software designers or solution architects rely on user stories to know what to build and why each feature is important. User stories are critical for carrying user insights through to the detailed design stage of work.

Key terminology

User stories: Descriptions of user needs written in the first person, usually in the format: ‘As a [user type], I need to [ action / behaviour / feature], so that [benefit]’.

Epic: In the Agile methodology, an epic is a complex user story – something that can be broken down into smaller units (a set of user stories) that makes sense to work on as a block.

Sprints: In the Agile methodology, sprints are short cycles of design work.

Reviewed 15 April 2020

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