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telling a (user) story

by: kylie holman


Have you ever been doing a menial task and you think, “There has to be a better way.”

For example, let’s say your department at work spends hours every week manually inputting data. How do you streamline that process? In this case, developing a proper software tool that automatically inputs the data for you could dramatically increase efficiency. Regardless of what your vision is, technology is designed to solve problems in a way that is more efficient, costeffective, and easy to adopt.
At Appsky, we specialize in software development. Specifically, this means we create hybrid mobile apps and progressive web apps for our clients. Oftentimes, when we meet a client for the first time, they come to us with an idea of the software’s purpose and the problem they are looking to solve with it. However, most ideas aren’t as fleshed out as they could be, leaving the client with plenty of “what-ifs”. That’s when we step in and work to create a little thing called User Stories.

In the software development world,
User Stories are the “features” that make up a user’s experience while using the software. It’s essentially a step-by-step list of how a user will interact with the tool. Interesting, right? Here’s a general idea of how to get started with your User Story:


1. What Problem or Problems are You Trying to Solve?


Like every [good] business, your business should be solving a problem. If it’s not, then your chances of creating a successful software business or tool is unlikely (but please feel free to prove us wrong)! So, the first question to ask yourself is: What problem am I solving? Before even thinking about the solution, you should be able to easily identify what the problem is and why it’s a problem.


2. Who is Affected by the Problem?



Now that you know what your problem is, you need to think about the different users or stakeholders affected by this problem. Who is affected directly? Indirectly? Who has influence over how to solve the problem? 


3. Think of the Solution



You’ve identified the problem and you recognize who is being affected, so now what are you going to do about it? If you want to solve the problem using technology, that may be with a mobile app or a web app. How is the technology going to function in order to solve the problem for your users?


4. Telling the Story



Now is when you can start to focus on creating a User Story. Like most stories, you should start at the beginning. For example:


  • User opens app
  • User signs up using Facebook login
  • User is logged in and sees a newsfeed
    • The newsfeed is organized by the most recent information show at top
    • Each post on the newsfeed must include: name of person who made the post, post content, timestamp of post, ability to like post
  • User has ability to create a post
    • User should be able to attach photos to post
    • User can enter text into text field (with a 500-character limit)
    • User submits post
    • User should be able to edit or delete post

Does this make sense? The more details, the better. Think about every single component that you want your user to be able to see, do, or interact with. 


This helps the software developing team immensely. Why? If you said “login using a username and password” versus “login using a Facebook account,” these mean two different things to a developer. For example, Facebook requires more information and need APIs to connect data from Facebook’s database in order to pull into your own app’s database.


5. Focus on the MVP – Minimal Viable Product



It can be easy to get carried away creating a complex mobile app with a gazillion features, but keep in mind that software development isn’t cheap. It can take days to create certain functionalities with an app (why do you think Facebook has hundreds of full-time software developers???) You may want to list all of the features, but try to break it down by phases.

Starting with phase one, what is the MVP or the bare minimum features you need in order to sell your product? Once you have that figured out, you can start thinking about what features you want to add after that phase. Flexibility is huge with this. Don’t be surprised if your phase two features need to be changed after your first beta test.

Your trial customers will be the ones to determine what comes next. They can teach you what they actually want vs what you thought they wanted.


Telling a (User) Story

Kylie is our Director of Digital Marketing

She acts as Appsky’s Brand Manager, creates content for & manages all of Appsky’s social media, and handles marketing efforts. She has degrees in both journalism & communication and has been with Appsky since June 2020.

Telling a (User) Story

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