User Stories As Foundation For User Experience (UX) Design

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Should your website’s experience be tailored to your customers or to you?

As a web design Singapore firm, we believe your website should be focusing on your customers’ needs and not your desired features. Our clients usually suggest lots of features to us that they want to build on to their websites without any market research to support their claim. They just “think” it will be cool with all these features on their website. What they need to do is to first find out what are the various groups of customers that they have or hope to have. Every business will at least have 2 or more groups, i.e. new customers and existing customers.

So how do you identify the various groups of customers for your business? You can either engage an UX designer who will walk you through this process in detail or talk to your customers and work out the user stories on your own.

What is a user story?

A user story is a fictional story of a user on what he or she wants from your website or app. UX designers use these user stories as a way to organize and prioritize how each screen is designed and which features to implement.

How to come out with a good user story?

These stories are based on good data and mimic a realistic test scenario so we can study how this user will behave. We usually create personas for user stories to make it more relatable and bring data to life.

For example, you might start with these data about your customers:

  • Aged 20 to 45
  • Most are married with children
  • Almost all are tech-savvy (know how to use smart mobile phones to surf the net)
  • 70% of your customers found you from Google search engine

The problem with these data is that it does not give you a good picture of who these customers are. Are they impatient white-collar workers or a housewife who spends most of the time taking care of the children?

You can be more specific by creating a persona that incorporates the data:

  • May, 30 years old
  • Married to James and has a 3-year old son, Leonard
  • Graduated from National Institute of Education (NIE) and currently working as a primary school teacher
  • Uses mobile phone to surf websites and Facebook.

We can then write a story that brings May to life and connects to your business. For example, you run a resort by the beach and May is your customer. The user story can be something like this:

May was referred by her friend and went to your resort for a short getaway. She signed up an account on your website and opt for your newsletter. She liked her stay at your resort and decides to go again for her honeymoon trip with her husband. They spend most of the time at the beach and the spa during their stay at your resort.

Her husband, James, has a hectic work life and leaves the travel planning to May. They usually plan their travel trips during the non-peak period so they can enjoy peaceful moments together without the crowd.

May is always checking out on good travel promotions on her mobile phone during her journey to work every morning. She also checks out TripAdvisor for reviews before booking.


With this persona, we can then build a user story around May’s profile in the context of the website. There are generally 4 questions to cover. And by answering these questions, we are able to nail down the screens and features for the website. There are no fixed answers to these questions and we usually do a roleplay with the business owners by asking them to act as if they are the customer (May) and evaluate.

1. How does May find out about your resort? (Awareness)

May was referred by her friend and signed up for the newsletter, so you have captured her email address. She sees your new promotion through your monthly newsletter and comes to your website and plans to book a trip.

2. What makes May engage with your website? (Engagement)

By putting up beautiful scenery photos of your resort and facilities, May is tempted to re-experience it again. After she logged in, the website then pulls out her last visit’s photos and tempts her further. She then proceeds to book a trip. As a valued customer of the resort, she is presented with a discount coupon code that she can use for this trip.

3. How to make May come back to your website? (Retention)

May might hesitate to make the payment after filling in the booking form. The website allows her to “reserve” the date and saves the form details so she can come back again to continue her booking process. If May doesn’t return in a week, the website will send her an email to remind her about her trip to your resort and the “reservation” will be removed if she doesn’t complete the booking process by the end of the week.

4. How do you get May to refer her friends to your resort? (Referral)

After her trip to your resort, your website sends her an email to leave a review on TripAdvisor and refer her friends. By filling in the reviews, she will be awarded a new discount coupon code that she can use again for her next trip. She is also able to post an update to her Facebook status from the website to share her moments with her friends.

Prioritizing Features

From the list above, you can already tell what features the website might want to incorporate to attract a customer like May. By completing all the different user stories, you will end up with a long list of features that are useful to your customers.

If the sky is the limit for you, you can proceed to implement all the features gathered from the user stories. But most of the time, you might not have enough budget to implement everything. So you need to work out a matrix and prioritize what is more important and which one can wait for the future release. Do note that some features might conflict with each other and you have to decide which one to keep.

The Takeaway

We hope you managed to get a glimpse of how a user story is created and how it can help you to discover the design and features you need for your new website. Keep in mind that it is a website, you don’t have to implement everything. It is a non-linear experience and not everything is available for everyone. As a good UX designer, he or she will be able to recommend the right approach to take for your new website. Last but not least, launching a new website is awesome, but not everything. What’s more important is the digital marketing plan or Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaign that comes along to get new leads for your business.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and we will do our best to answer you.

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