User Stories and Agile Development

By Aaron Sherman

Check out Storyboard That's Illustrated Guide to Product Development on Customer Journey Mapping!

Defining User Stories and Agile Development

Download Free Design Thinking Workshop

Use storyboards to help explain processes and customer interaction

Create a Storyboard 

(This will start a 2-Week Free Trial - No Credit Card Needed)

A core tenet of modern development processes is agile development. This development methodology stresses using small, bite-sized user stories to define what a system does from a user perspective, not a technical one. A user cares if a product is fast, easy to use, and solves their problem. They do not care if it follows a 3-tier architecture, has Mongo DB, or if it is using Rails or

User stories:

  • Are easy to understand, and anyone can participate
  • Work iteratively; they can and should be changed or amended frequently
  • Align developers, users, and business specialists around common goals and expectations
  • Are a lot easier to read than 400-page requirement documents

Storyboard That provides an ideal platform to create agile user stories and spark conversation in a format that is much less taxing than a wall of text.

Download Free Persona Templates


In the context of user stories, an “epic” is simply a very broad story that will later be broken down into many specific user stories. Starting with an epic aligns everyone with a single, high-level vision. The epic story anchors a project from the top down, and if it doesn’t make sense to construct an epic, supporting work is also going to be a waste of effort.

Create a Storyboard 

(This will start a 2-Week Free Trial - No Credit Card Needed)

Create an Agile User Story  

In this story, it is very clear what the long term vision is and what success should look like. A good epic story should include:

  • Setting or Context
  • Actors or Users
  • Goals and Objectives
  • Activities and Events

Download Free Persona Templates

Defining Users

Especially when designing software, it is important to have a good vision of what the users will be like. Not every user will match this vision precisely, and there may be multiple categories of user, but these discrete visions need articulation. Thinking about users first guards against over-engineering and over-complication, preventing a new product from having something for everyone and being useful to no one.

Create a Storyboard 

(This will start a 2-Week Free Trial - No Credit Card Needed)

Create an Agile User Story  

Creating a Story

Once an epic has been established and users have been defined, smaller, more specific stories can be constructed about particular user experiences. The stories below break down the outlined above into two narratives: looking up an order and re-ordering a product.

These narratives do not contain technical information; the users do not care how the results are achieved, so long as it performs the desired tasks. Similarly, the UX is depicted generically, to avoid stifling innovation or forcing a path. In general, stories should be:

Create a Storyboard 

(This will start a 2-Week Free Trial - No Credit Card Needed)

  • Small – Under 10 days work
  • Valuable – Once completed they should deliver something usable
  • Estimable – Able to create a ballpark estimate of how much effort is involved

Looking Up an Order

Create an Agile User Story  

Performing a Reorder

Create an Agile User Story  

Conversation & Planning for Testing

These stories should invite conversation and questions, such as:

  • Are these the right stories to match our epic?
  • What other stories should be created?
  • Are these stories consistent with what we know about our users?

It is perfectly reasonable to create many stories; in fact, it should be encouraged. Some of these stories will never be used, but it is important to see the path they set down. This collection of stories will flush out additional requirements and influence testing.

The stories should provoke and inform discussion about how the software will be tested and what business rules need to be explicitly defined. For example:

  • How fast does a lookup need to be?
  • Is there a time limit on re-orders?
  • What should the system do if it is the second re-order? Fifth?
  • What tests and follow up questions would you have?

Create a Storyboard 

(This will start a 2-Week Free Trial - No Credit Card Needed)

Further Reading

Storyboard That provides a powerful tool for creating great user stories, but it is not meant to stand alone as a framework for project management. Here are some of our favorite books on the subject.

Create an Agile User Story  


Just per month per user!


billed annually

See Full Pricing Page

Help Share Storyboard That!

Looking for More?

Check out the rest of our Business Articles and Resources!

All Business Resources | Business Strategy Resources | Marketing Resources | Graphic Design Resources | Product Development Resources | Training and HR Resources | Film Resources | Video Marketing Resources

Special Editions

BusinessProduct DevelopmentPersonasCustomer Journey MapsWireframesInfographicsVideo MarketingFilmComics

Start My Free Trial
© 2020 - Clever Prototypes, LLC - All rights reserved.
Explore Our Articles and Examples

Business Resources

All Business ArticlesBusiness Templates

Film Resources

Film ResourcesVideo Marketing

Illustrated Guides

Try Our Other Websites!

Photos for Class   •   Quick Rubric   •   abcBABYart   •   Storyboard That's TpT Store
Prefer a different language?

•   (English) Agile User Stories   •   (Español) Historias de Usuarios Ágiles   •   (Français) Histoires D'utilisateurs Agiles   •   (Deutsch) Agile Benutzer Stories   •   (Italiana) Storie Utente Agile   •   (Nederlands) Agile Gebruikersverhalen   •   (Português) Histórias de Usuário Ágil   •   (עברית) סיפורי משתמש Agile   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) قصص العضو رشيقة   •   (हिन्दी) चंचल उपयोगकर्ता कहानियां   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Проворные Истории Пользователей   •   (Dansk) Agile User Stories   •   (Svenska) Agile Användar Stories   •   (Suomi) Ketterä Käyttäjäkertomuksia   •   (Norsk) Agile Brukerhistorier   •   (Türkçe) Çevik Kullanıcı Hikayeleri   •   (Polski) Agresywne Historie Użytkowników   •   (Româna) Povestiri Utilizator Agile   •   (Ceština) Agilní Uživatelské Příběhy   •   (Slovenský) Príbehy Agilných Používateľov   •   (Magyar) Agilis Felhasználói Történetek   •   (Hrvatski) Agilne Korisničke Priče   •   (български) Потребителски Истории   •   (Lietuvos) Agile User Istorijos   •   (Slovenščina) Agile Uporabniške Zgodbe   •   (Latvijas) Agile Lietotāju Stāsti   •   (eesti) Agile Kasutaja Stories