Find out what your users’ needs are

Write a user story 

User stories can help you to find out what your users want or need to do. They put you in the position of the user and improve your understanding of what they want to achieve. To write a user story you should ask who, what and why. 

Here is a user story template: 

  • As a… [who is the user?] 
  • I want/need… [what does the user want or need to do?] 
  • So that I can… [what does the user want to achieve?] 

Here is an example we could use at the ONS: 

  • As a journalist 
  • I need to quickly find the latest data on weekly deaths 
  • So that I can write my news article before my 1pm deadline 

For each piece of content that you write, you might have a few different user stories to reflect the different types of users visiting your page. You may need to consider several different needs when planning your content.  

Use acceptance criteria 

Acceptance criteria are outcomes that show that your content has met the user need. Our acceptance criteria for the previous example could be: 

“The user need is met when the user can access the weekly deaths data quickly and use the data in their article”. 

This allows us to explore multiple solutions and ideas for how the user may get this information. 

Avoid solutions in your criteria 

Try not to include a solution in your criteria, known as “solutionising”.This can lead to assumptions about your audience. It can prevent you from finding a better way of meeting the user need.  

In our example, a solutionised acceptance criteria could be:  

“The user need is met when the user can download an Excel file quickly.”   

In this case, we have made assumptions about how users want to access the information. Excel may not be the best format for an inquiring citizen using a mobile device.