Thursday, August 09, 2007

User Stories for Assessment of the Portal

As Chick and Tom are going to be developing the portal using the agile development method, I thought it would be interesting to experiment with incorporating user stories for the assessment of the development of the portal. The advantage of using user stories as opposed to use case studies is that it allows for a more iterative and flexible process.

The question I've been asked the most so far is how user stories differ from use case stories. A user story is smaller in scope than a use case and does not include as much detail. A user story should be simple, clear and brief – hopefully one sentence. The detail about functionality comes from conversations about the user story, so there’s a large verbal component to them.

The purpose of the user stories approach is to get user feedback right away so that it drives development, and to get user feedback on work-flow rather than display labels so that you tailor the system for them. I’ve been using “User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development”, by Mike Cohn, to help plan the assessment.

Here are some examples of potential user stories for the Aquifer American Social History Online portal:

  • A user can do a basic simple search that searches for a word or phrase in both the author and title fields.
  • A user can establish an account for storing digital objects.
  • A user can edit the information stored in his account.
  • A user can see what books are recommended by vetted peers on a variety of topics.
  • A user can write a review of a book. She can preview the review before submitting it. The book does not have to be part of the Aquifer collections.

……..and some summaries of what user stories are:

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