The process – user stories
In lesson one we discussed the process for getting your idea on paper and trying to describe the problem your solution solves. With Lesson 2 we move on to the process of building user stories that describe how individuals will use the product.
The key starting point for what you are about to build doesn’t necessarily start with you. It starts with your end users. It is the what and the how of using the product.
In lesson one we discussed the requirement to think about the “need” and what problem the app solves. You now need to think about the people it solves this for and how they will interact with it.
Start by creating profiles of the different users who will use the app. What is their job, what will they use the app for, how will they use the app, what specific problem or pain point will the app solve for them. It may be useful to send out surveys at this point or to bring your users together to form a user group to help brainstorm ideas. If you already have a prototype, have they used it, do they have any feedback. What do they think of your idea and the way it will work for them.
It’s a great way to get the information that will be useful later when writing your spec as you can envisage the individuals using the product and what they will be trying to get done with each function. It may also allow you to prioritise features that need to be included on your MVP and which features could go on the backlog.
Write all these user profiles and user stories down. This is what will give you the key outline to what you’re trying to achieve. Think big picture at this point. We’re still on the “what’ not the ‘how’ at this stage.
Here’s an example of some of the user stories we collected for CEMBooks V2
Junior doctor – “my patient has a PE that needs thrombolysing – how do I do that, who do I need to tell and where do I need to refer them, there’s bits of information all over the place, is this laminate in date?”
Nurse in charge – “I’m down 2 nurses, on a background of a heavy hour of attendances. How serious is that at this time of day / night, how do I record this, do I need to let someone know, who, and how do I contact them, and what should I expect them to do?”
Consultant: “I remember a discussion about a patient like this in an email trail a few months ago with a pan specialty agreement, where is that?”
To explore the first user story in more detail we need;
Resources; – a repository of guidelines with “How to treat PE” that is easy to find and quickly give advice, as opposed to a regional A-Z of PE. This should be up to date and have a clear author/reference. We should be able to point to advice about where and how to refer the patient to and this should be easily searchable.
Phone book – should provide the phone and contact information for all of the teams referred to in the guideline. You should be able to call or message these directly from your phone through the product.
This outlines a specific use case for our App. Yours will have similar – start to write them down and work them through to this level.
Once completed, start to go through these and prioritise them
1/ core functions
2/ nice to have
3/ if money was no object…
At this point it’s worth considering what other systems are out there and do any of these do those individual use cases really well – it’s worth knowing what is out there and how you will create a differentiation between your product and the competition but also if something is being done well, there’s no point reinventing the wheel
This brings you to a point where you should have a list of key functions that your product will perform.
The next stage will be to describe in much more detail the ‘how’ underlying each function. How will it work, what steps are involved in the workflow for each function and where each function will take the user.
And that is the point we’ll leave it at today. Head back in two weeks, where we consider building a functional specification from your user stories.
As usual we welcome any comments about these tutorials – more info, more examples, too long, too short, too boring whatever you have to say please drop a comment in the section below or on our Twitter feed and we’ll get back to you.