University of Bath

Creating user stories for web content

What a user story is and how to write one to create user-focused content.

Why we write user stories

A user story is a common way of describing a user need. User stories help us focus our writing on what the user wants to achieve. Well-written user stories also make it easier to write more helpful page titles and summaries.

Whenever we produce a new piece of content, we create a user story. It is a required step for any new content item in our Content Publisher.

Writing user stories

Write a simple description of what someone needs, from their perspective, using the structure:

As a… [the type of user/role]
I need/want… [the goal]
So that… [the reason/benefit of the content]

The first part always describes the user, never the person creating the content.

The second part, the goal, is the most important one. It helps us make sure we're solving the right problem and deciding when the user need is met.

Detailed user stories

User stories work best when they are focused on a single, achievable need. You will usually create a detailed user story for a page in Content Publisher. Detailed user stories are:

  • topic specific
  • task-driven
  • actionable

For example:

As a... new student
I need... to find out how to reserve items in the Library
So that... I can reserve my required reading list books

Epic user stories

To describe a user need for a larger section or a Collection, we write an epic user story. This acts as an overall need, which can be broken into smaller, more focused needs:

As a... new student
I need... to know what I have to do to start my studies
So that... I am prepared for my course

Addressing multiple user needs

There may be more than one user story for a single page. In this case, use the most important user need at the top, and then use subheadings to address further, less important user needs.

A good example is the page 'Applying for an undergraduate course'. The most important user story for this page is:

As… a prospective student
I need… to know what the application process for Bath is like
So I can… apply confidently via UCAS

This is reflected in the page summary:

How to apply for our undergraduate courses through UCAS, including specific advice for international applicants and mature students.

The subheadings on the page then focus on other, specific user needs, such as submitting your application and tracking your application.