User Interface finds itself at the crossroads. It is no longer about how you would like your users to interact with your software product. It is about listening to the voice of your users and that is where user stories gain utmost prominence. User interface design cannot happen in isolation. It demands the active involvement of the users to make the design truly outstanding.
In simple words a user story is a customer need or expectation from your software product. User stories had their genesis in scrum development strategies and agile software methodologies. But for designers of user interface it is a significant input to take into consideration in order to come up with designs that deliver instant customer delight.
User stories help to create a framework with the right procedure and prioritization for each phase of the designing process. User stories are concise and highly precise leaving no room for ambiguity. How many times as a designer do you find yourself in the middle of discussions where each team wants its ideas to be implemented? But keeping the users’ ideas at the centre a lot of these debates can be avoided.
User Stories – The Holy Grail of User Interface Designs
Designers, developers and other software professionals increasingly find themselves working in agile environments. It is all about speed and delivering within tight deadlines. User stories offer a robust underpinning for the design process. Coming up with a user story does not need a lot of effort or time but it is of immense help nonetheless.
User stories can assist in the following ways:
- The product will be at all times focused on the customer needs
- All teams can work seamlessly as the roadmap and framework is predetermined
- There are no work related bottlenecks for want of sufficient and lucid inputs
Consider a designer has to develop an app for an airline company. It has to be an app that helps passengers to book a flight ticket from choosing the right flight, class to the final confirmation of the ticket. So before even beginning to design the app it is necessary to document the user stories.
The user stories for the flight booking app could be as follows:
- I need a form wherein I select the details like origin, destination, date, etc
- I need a search engine to list flights on some preset parameters like price, time, etc
- I need to be able to make the payment using credit or debit card and get the ticket
- I need to be able to cancel the flight for any reason, before the stipulated time
- I need to be kept in the loop if the flight is cancelled, delayed or changed
Now user stories like these can help the designers to come up with the specific designs to meet the clearly stated needs. If a particular user story is not specific enough it can always be broken down into precise constituent user stories. Once all the details are documented they can be assigned numbers and taken into consideration in the wireframe stage. This shall further help during the actual design phase by preventing all ambiguity and hold-ups.
It is always useful to never go ahead with the designing process if there is no corresponding user story to back it. It is important to keep the user interface simple without burdening it with unnecessary features. User stories also help the designers to snap out of their technical frame of mind and think in terms of the lay users. It is after all the users who are going to decide whether the product is exemplary or just a run-of-the-mill creation.