User stories are created from the viewpoint of the (yes, you guessed it) users. This is something completely different compared to a system-centered view of the features. But what does this really mean?
Most of the time, an application is used by different users or user roles, each with its own characteristics. So, when we start writing stories, we must identify these user roles appropriately.
This identification process is not rocket science, but we often see teams that underestimate the importance of user role identification. It is often overlooked, causing problems later on. This identification process is called user role modeling.
The idea is simple:
Write down every user you can think of.
Sort the user roles and group similar ones together.
Remove duplicates, synonyms and finalize the list of identified user roles.
When an agreement is reached, it’s time to document them.
Each of the roles interacts differently with the application. Some roles will have features that are solely built for them; other roles will share features. This can be shown in a user role hierarchy that clarifies the hierarchical relationships between users, starting with a very generic user at the top, diving deeper into details at the lower levels. This is an important diagram because it forces you to think about who you’re implementing features for. Our course, The Ultimate Guide To User Stories, contains a detailed example if you want to find more about this. This image (from our course, The Ultimate Guide To User Stories) shows you an example of what this structure might look like.
Another part of documenting these user roles is building a comprehensive but basic user role profile. Doing this will make everybody understand how the user will interact with the platform and why.
When writing down these user role profiles, we have tried searching for a good and comprehensive template, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to find something that fully suited our needs.
That’s why we created a basic template that can be used to describe the user role.
That’s our newest download!
Because it has been created based on years of practical experiences and problems we frequently encountered ourselves, we feel confident sharing this cherished piece of knowledge with you. We hope this will become one of your treasured tools.
How does this template work? Quite simple. You fill in each section with the required information and revisit it when writing new user stories to fit the user role.
What information do you fill in? First of all, a name, so we can refer to this user with the correct name, as well as an estimation of the total amount of users in that role. Next, we look at the user role’s context with the product: how will he interact with the product? Thirdly we describe a few characteristics of this user: does he understand the domain, and how are his digital skills?
Then there are two important sections: “jobs to be done” and “gaps to be addressed.” People use products to get jobs done, so think about what the user wants to achieve. If you want to learn more about this, check out this book (When Coffee and Kale Compete by Alan Klement). Gaps to be addressed adds to this by writing down the gaps that people experience when trying to get the job done.
Lastly, a few sections deal with contextual information about the user role, mainly looking at when, where, and how they interact with the product.
We use this user role profile a lot – it pushes the team to a mutual understanding of who we are building the product for. We hope this template does the same for you and that by using this template; you are one step closer to writing good user stories.