In her talk “User Storytelling: The Lost Art of User Stories“, Ulrika Park (blog, slides on slideshare) made a case to become aware of the spreading practice of “snapshot user stories.” As an example compare “give warrant to use the bonus” (slide 14) to slide 16:
Elisabeth sees in the MyStore newsletter that she this month has got 12€ in bonus and that she has a total of 16,7€ in bonus on her club card.
E’s husband Claes go to the store. He has a club card too. “You can probably pay with your card” says E.
Claes shops. When he will pays, no bonus is withdrawn from the sum at the cashier.
So he pays the whole sum and gets home. “Strange why can’t I pay with the bonus, how does this work”
E already has a registered user on mystore.se Sometimes she logs in to see her credit card balance.
E logs in and see the saldo “16,7€”. She clicks the balance and enters “events page”
There she sees that she’s bonus owner and that her co-bonuxcollector is Claes.
She gets information that she needs to sign warrant for him and choose the option to print a form.
She choose to print the form, checks Claes, signs the form and goes to the mailbox the day after.
2 weeks later she gets a letter from MyStore that confirms the warrant is verified. A week later Claes goes shopping. This time, the bonus is withdrawn from the total buy.
I think even without the highlighted parts, you can quickly see that the whole story is much richer than the “more efficient snapshots.” Moreover, it helped to expose some critical problems that no one noticed before:
- Hidden expectations (user must already be registered)
- This process takes four weeks! Do we really want that?
- It helps more people. QA will be able to derive test cases from this. Developers will know much better what is expected from them. BAs will know which questions to ask.
- It’s pretty easy to follow it, even if you’re not a software developer. Remember that these stories were meant as a means to communicate better with customer and managers?
A good story has these properties:
- A hero
- A platform
- An enemy or challenge
- Emotions (“how does this work?”)
- Allies (cashier, web site)
- A mission to accomplish
Everything is held together by a logical sequence of events.