Upgrading your Website: Writing User Stories

Post by Heather H Picture of Heather H
Reading time 3 mins clock

Now that we’ve identified our SMART website goals and our main users or user groups, we can start getting to the nitty-gritty of your new website. 

It’s time to start writing requirements for your website keeping all of your goals and users in mind.

“That’s easy, I’ll just write everything we need the website to do in a document” I hear you say.


For me, I believe one of the biggest causes of failed website builds comes from two points:

  • The specifications that a client gives their agency (They usually focus on the how and who not the why)


  • The agency not taking time to help their client deliver a better brief so they are able to fully understand what their client wants from their new website.

So if you’re creating a brief for your new website project, one of the best things you can do is create user stories.

An agency or developer doesn’t want to be told how to build it, they want to understand how you expect it to work in a variety of scenarios. User stories help you to do this without using complicated, technical jargon. Usually, developers are more ‘logical thinkers’.

Dani interviewed Dan Pala and Mark Byrne in our latest podcast to explain what user stories are, why they’re important and how to write them. 

Sticky notes on a wall by Will McMahan on Unsplash

What is a simple example of a user story?

User Stories should follow the format of 

As a <particular class of user>, I want to <be able to perform/do something>; so that <I get some form of value or benefit>

Examples could include:

As a customer, I would like a one-click purchase option so that I can save time when buying online.
For example, a returning customer to Domino's Pizza wanting to easily reorder their favourite pizzas with one-click.

As an editor of a publications website, I would like to review content before it is published so that I can assure it has correct spelling, grammar and tone of voice.

As a customer, I would like to be able to share content so that I can pass on relevant information to people I think would benefit from it.

Why do user stories matter when upgrading a site?

Ever used a website and been so frustrated by how it did (or didn’t) work? Been so defeated by it that you used an alternative site instead?

Yep. We all have!

This is exactly why user stories matter. 

They help clients and agencies achieve a requirement that currently doesn’t work properly. 

If you’re a website editor, I’m almost certain you’ve had to find some bizarre workaround to get your website to do what you need it to.

Again, this is why user stories matter. They create contextual requirements for what should actually happen, for who and the reason why it should happen.

They also allow you to test that the features you want implementing on your new site actually work the way they should. Your user stories become a checklist of whether your new website does what you initially agreed it would do or not. In essence, whether your website project was a success!

Phone with headphones by William Iven on Unsplash

Be silent and listen. You will hear the keys to success...

Learn how to create brilliant briefs and spectacular specifications using User Stories for your website upgrade or build from our knowledgable Mark and Dan in our second podcast of the series.

Listen on our Spotify or YouTube channels.

Missed our other steps to upgrading your website?

To see the rest our website upgrade series, take a look at the links below:

Step 1: Your SMART Website Goals

Step 2: Identifying your main users and user groups

Step 3: Writing User Stories

Step 4: Documenting Site Features 

Step 5: Identifying and adding plugins / modules

Step 6 part 1: Why Benchmarking Helps You Find the Answer

Step 6 part 2: Benchmark Metrics and Tools To Get You Started

Step 7: How to Demo a CMS and Understand Which is Right For You


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