Angus McDonald on User Stories


User Story Card*I really liked Angus’ recent post on User Stories (Wikipedia link about User Stories here) and how he grapples with question of whether they are even needed. User Stories feature prominently in the upcoming Visual Studio 2010 releases, so you’re sure to hear more about them (in the Microsoft space that is).

The value in Angus’ post is how he outlines the issues (and thoughts from a variety of sources) without dividing it into a ponderous project-specific debate. Methodologies and approaches (hello Planning Poker) are usually horses for courses decisions in my experience. They’ll work in some places and not in others – there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. And perhaps even if a methodology fits a project, it may not suit the team in place (ie they might be resistant) – and you end up facing whether to change the methodology for the team or change the team for the project…

Interestingly (for me at least) much of the agile thought process that’s been thrashed out in developer circles over the years has started working well for me in the SEO space. Clients are keen to avoid big ranking/traffic/PPC-spend proposals, and instead work on weekly goals (they’re almost iterations). At one client I even use cards each meeting to nut out the high level goals which we then prioritise, allocate resources budgets to, etc. In fact, if I were looking to write a link-bait story I think something along the lines of ‘7 Tips for writing SEO User Stories’ would have legs :-)

Note: I used to work with Angus at Elcom and whilst I hold his opinion on most things in high regard, when it comes to his thoughts on Avatar he is clearly out of his mind** ;). Speaking of ex-colleagues, Anthony Milner’s post yesterday on HTML 5 in Google Chrome was fun, and Sam Fu’s blog is always worth a read.

*Image taken from SSW’s User Stories rule.

** UPDATE: Angus has posted his full thoughts on Avatar here, where he goes into 3D, gaming and Project Natal.


By Craig Bailey