A user story, is pretty much what it sounds like; a short, simple story of what a visitor to your website is seeking. A good template to use when writing your user story is:
As a user, I want [goal].
If you’re looking to add a little more to your user story, you could try this:
As a user, I want [goal] because [reason].
The emphasis here is on short. Try to keep your user stories to one sentence. Write them on index cards or Post It notes.
Why Are User Stories Important?
In essence, user stories tell the Who and What (and if you include a reason then also the Why) of your website. For your web developer, designer, and content writer, user stories explain what you need your website to do. They are easily understood by everyone working on your site, and they facilitate cooperation. Another benefit to writing the user stories on index cards is that they can be ordered in terms of priorities. What do you want your user to do first, second and maybe third on the website or any given page of the site.
Expand the story
A tip for expanding your user’s story is to give the user a name, profession; a real profile and take them on a journey through your site with a specific problem they have which is the reason they came to your site. What is 30-year-old Joe the office manager dealing with? Is he in pain and seeking acupuncture for his sciatic pain? Because he is in pain, he needs a schedule button to be obvious to make his appointment now. Walk through that story for Joe and how your site will solve his problem.
And keep in mind that each user on your site may have a different problem they’re trying to solve. Mary may be coming to the Acupuncture site to learn if acupuncture is an effective treatment for infertility. You might consider creating profiles for three different users.
How Does the User Story Help With Content?
While user stories are not only important to the developers and graphic designers building your website, they can also be extremely helpful in writing content for your site. The focus of your user stories should be the problems that your website is helping visitors solve. The biggest problem many business owners face in creating content is not having a strategy or a plan to outline the content and stay focused. Creating a content strategy becomes a lot easier with user stories and makes the content about what the user needs and not what the business owner wants to write about. They provide a framework for how your website content will help visitors. The user stories prevent distractions and keep content writers accountable (which in many cases is you, the business owner).
The user story should also be tied into the marketing plan and business objectives to move the business forward. Some find that their online marketing objectives change once they take the time to create the user story. Your content should address the user stories in a way that resonates with each visitor’s journey. These stories drive the important fact that the most important stakeholder in your website is the user, and the goal of the content is to demonstrate how your business solves their problems and provides their answers immediately and effectively when they land on your site.
And What About Web Design?
User stories help your developer and designers decide the layout of each page and which features your website needs. They can reduce wasted time and effort on unnecessary elements. Every aspect of your website should correspond to the user’s journey; if it doesn’t, ask yourself and your team, “Is this necessary and how does it help our users?” User stories keep everyone on track and prevent the creep of extraneous features.
What are the challenges?
The challenges associated with creating a user story, many times, is getting everyone on the same page for the messaging. If there are multiple stakeholders invested in the website project, it can be difficult to ensure buy-in and focus on the user versus writing whatever they want to say.
User Stories Are Fluid
The great thing about user stories is that they can be revised, edited, added to and removed throughout a project and in the future as your business goals might shift. This process is flexible and fluid, and user stories provide a way to really dial in what you’re trying to convey to your user. It also keeps everyone on the same page and focused on the user during the content writing process.