Notes: How to gather Agile Requirements with User Stories? Why Use them? How to write them?

Following are just some rough notes taken while watching Mike Cohn’s ‘User Stories for Agile Requirements’ talk at NDC2010 conference, I am posting them here hoping that it will help you, for a more in-depth look at user stories I recommend watching Mike’s presentation.

What is a User story?

Short simple statement told from the perspective of the user.

Why use them?

User stories are a way to capture user requirement

How does it look like?

User Story Template

As-a (some user)

I want/I need (something)

So that (some reason)


As a user, I want to reserve a hotel room

As a user, I want to cancel a reservation

As a vacation traveler, I want to see photos of the hotels

As a frequent flyer, I want to  rebook a past trip so that I save time booking trips I take often

Balance between developer division and business is important



Two ways to write User stories


Right user stories on a card, right story details behind the card

these become tests, high level tests (don’t use ‘tests’ with product owner)



Take a user story and break it down


Or use both

  • Rip up the big story and write some smaller stories

  • Write condition of satisfaction on the back of the index card

  • Those user stories go to the product backlog, it should look like an Iceberg


Small user stories are on the top,medium below and large ones at the bottom


Take the medium user stories, break them up and bring them to the Sprint/Iteration, backlog gets empty every few weeks, break epic stories and make smaller ones

Epic is a large user story

Theme is a collection of related user stories


Take the bigger story and break it down


Replace document with discussion, if requirements are only documented and not discussed most likely user is going to get what is written, not what they wanted.






User stories are used to pull real information from the product owner.