What is a User Story?

User Story Background

The term “User Story” was first used Kent Beck in 1996, and became popular through its
inclusion in the first Extreme Programming Project. They idea has been further refined
by Ron Jeffries, Chet Hendrickson, Bill Wake, Mike Cohn, and Alistair Cockburn. User Stories,
while not required by Scrum, are often used by Scrum Teams as a way to represent Product Backlog

User story is the unit of work in Agile

  • Stories represent requirements in agile
  • A story is an artifact that aims to:
    • Describe briefly, a user scenario or user operation, often in one to two sentences
    • •Stimulate dialog between the customer and the development team.
    • •Outline strict success criteria
  • Composed of acceptance criteria & narratives
    • Acceptance criteria are the requirements for story completion set by the customer
    • Narratives add business or technical context to the story

user stories

The Three Components of User Stories

There are three components of User Stories, often referred to as the three Cs: Card, Conversations
and Confirmations (from Ron Jeffries).

A token, with a story title and description, used for planning and acting as a reminder to have conversations.
The card is basically just a title or some descriptive text about the Story. You can use an actual card, or just a s
entence or so of descriptive text, to represent a story as a token to remind you to have conversations about the Story. It is a good practice to keep the title and descriptive text to as few words as possible. The purpose of the card is to remind us to have conversations.
Conversations discuss the story details and result in one or more test confirmations.
Acceptance Criteria that can be turned into automated acceptance tests. These automated tests are vital, and they are what enable the simple and light approach implemented by the first two Cs (Card and Conversations).

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User Story Format

As a <role> I want to <goal> so that I can <value>.

As a web shopper , want to save my browsing preferences so that I can maintain a consistent shopping experience

User Story Example

Story Phrase:
•As a CPA I want to automate the calculation of a client’s income tax so that I can ensure reporting meets regulation requirements.
•The current system does not provide the data validation for the recently introduced regulation requirements.
•Business Rule: 2012 Income Tax Rules deem a 6% tax for incomes of <50K & an 8% tax for incomes >50K.
Acceptance Criteria:
1.The CPA must choose the year for which the calculation is to be done.
2.The CPA must be asked to enter the client’s income twice for accuracy.
3.The display containing the calculated income tax amount must be 40pt.
4.Income tax calculations must match the 2012 Income Tax Rules.

Mario Lucero

Mario Lucero

I am all about helping companies to adopt agile as methodology in Chile. Why? I believe many organizations think that agile is not for Chilean companies because of Chilean culture is totally different from i.e. USA culture but I worked with Chilean professionals who after using agile realized it is feasible to implement it. Agile works in small and large projects and there are many evidences which demonstrate this.


  1. This is a great systematic explanation of what a User Story is in the Agile Methodology , Will be of great help for people learning Agile and Scrum. The background info on this term is also great knowledge.

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words.


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