March 12, 2017 · Updated Dec. 20, 2017                                        2017-12-20

Accounting for UX Work with User Stories in Agile Projects

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2024-04-01 16:00:16

March 12, 2017 · Updated Dec. 20, 2017 2017-12-20

In the past few years, Agile has become the dominant method for software-project management. In a recent survey, we found that 69% of UX practitioners’ projects use an Agile approach. However, UX practices and Agile workflows do not always easily fit together, as Agile processes were not originally developed with UX in mind. As a result, UX professionals have had to learn to be flexible and adapt their processes and workflows to fit within the rules, ceremonies, and pace of Agile development.

With the typical Agile cadence of one- or two-week sprints, it can be a challenge to fit all needed UX activities in during this brief period, so UX practitioners often work one or more sprints ahead of the development team, either doing research to discover user behaviors and to test prototypes or preparing polished designs for implementation as far ahead of the development team as possible.

On many Agile teams, feature and functionality planning is documented in the form of user stories: each feature is condensed down to a deliberately brief description of the functionality from a user’s point of view, focusing on what the user wants to do, and how that feature will help. The typical format of a user story is a single sentence: “As a [type of user], I want to [goal], so that [benefit].” For example, “As a checking account holder, I want to deposit checks with my mobile device, so that I don’t have to go to the bank.”

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